Essential travel does not mean going on holiday, warns government

Essential travel does not mean going on holiday and second home owners should stay in their primary residence, says the Government.

That's after popular tourist destinations across Cumbria and Southern Scotland were busy with people enjoying a day out over the weekend despite calls for social distancing.

The Assistant Chief Constable of Cumbria Police says "a national closure of businesses & schools is not an excuse for a holiday". Andrew Slattery says it's largely day-trippers and second home owners that made the Lake District "as busy as a bank holiday".

The Lake District Search and Mountain Rescue Association has asked tourists and locals to stay at home as people continue to travel to the Lake District for walks.

The association of 12 teams in the area say they are are "deeply concerned" about the number of holidaymakers who are putting "local people, team members and other emergency services workers at increased risk".

A spokesperson from the association said: "We are a dedicated group of over 400 volunteers who have been through some tough rescues and major incidents in our time together.

"We’ve always been there for you. However, we find ourselves in a unique situation and needing to focus on our families and our work right now. We must also fully support our NHS colleagues who are under pressure already – many of whom are team members in the Lakes."

A Cockermouth Mountain Rescue spokesman said: "Please act responsibly to minimise the effect of coronavirus on mountain rescue teams, and as importantly, on the rural communities across the UK that we represent."

Devil's Bridge in Kirkby Lonsdale. Credit: South Lakes Police.

Local MP Tim Farron also made an emotional plea to tourists not to visit the Lake District to protect people from the spread of Coronavirus.

He said: "Some of the images that have been shared on social media this weekend of large gatherings in places like Bowness bay and Devil’s Bridge in Kirkby Lonsdale are hugely alarming.

“To anyone thinking about going for a holiday in Cumbria during this outbreak I would say this: the Lake District will still be here after Coronavirus has gone, but if you choose to ignore the advice then sadly your loved ones might not be.

“Don’t put lives at risk – please stay at home.”

Mr Farron is currently isolating after a member of his family started showing symptoms of the virus.

Isle of Whithorn, Dumfries and Galloway. Credit: PA

Over the border, Visit South West Scotland posted a plea to tourists to stay away from popular attractions. They said: "Visit South West Scotland asks you not to visit our region at this time, keeping people safe is the top priority.

"Hopefully soon we'll be able to welcome you to our beautiful corner of Scotland till then we'll share some of what our gorgeous region has to offer #StayHomeSaveLives"

Health Minister Matt Hancock has said people ignoring Government advice by leaving their homes to socialise are "selfish" and could be costing lives.

He would not rule out a full lockdown just as Downing Street also said Boris Johnson would not hesitate to take further action if stricter measures were needed to enforce social distancing.

Coronavirus: Everything you need to know