'Don't rush back to the Lakes yet' - the message from MP Tim Farron and tourism bosses

"Please don't rush back to the Lakes yet" - that's the message from Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron and tourism bosses in Cumbria.

The plea comes after the Prime Minister's address to the nation on the easing of lockdown rules in England.

As of Wednesday, Boris Johnson said the public will be allowed "unlimited" outdoor exercise and anyone who cannot work from home will be “actively encouraged” to return to their workplaces.

“You can sit in the sun in your local park, you can drive to other destinations, you can even play sports - but only with members of your own household,” the PM said.

It has raised concerns from tourism bosses across Cumbria who say it is too soon to ease up on lockdown regulations - one of which said: "We are shocked by the timing and short notice of tonight's announcement.

"We are awaiting further details but the safety of residents must come first.

"For now, tourism businesses in Cumbria remain closed and we urge everyone to continue to #StayHome."

The county has one of the highest infection rates in the UK - at 391 per 100,000 people - and more than 300 people have died.

As of 10 May, more than 2,000 confirmed cases were recorded in Cumbria.

2,104

confirmed cases of coronavirus in Cumbria. (as of 10 May 2020)

Boris Johnson addressed the nation almost two months after the lockdown started. Credit: PA

Following the Prime Minister’s statement this evening, local MP Tim Farron released a statement calling for clarity on what it means for communities in the Lake District.

He said: "The Prime Minister said we could now drive for exercise, but not how far.

"He said that hospitality businesses would remain closed until July, but didn’t mention anything about travelling to second homes.

"Local communities here in the Lake District will be rightly concerned about this lack of clarity, and the impact it could have on local residents – especially with Snowdonia so clearly off limits to people in Manchester and Liverpool.”

In a plea to residents across the north of England, Tim said: “We will welcome you all back to the Lakes with open arms when this is over, but sadly people are still dying so please don’t rush back to the Lake District yet.”

Cumbria Police has also Tweeted about the Prime Minister's announcement, encouraging people to look at a map of the coronavirus cases in the UK which shows Cumbria in the higher category.

A spokesperson from the constabulary in South Lakes said: "Before considering travelling to Cumbria and the Lake District please grab a brew, examine this map, and take a long hard look at your own conscience.

"We urge you to use common sense and to continue to exercise close to your own home. We need to break the cycle of infection."

Restrictions across Scotland will remain largely unchanged, although people will also be allowed out more than once per day for exercise.

The easement plan was quickly criticised by opposition politicians who said they'd hoped for "consensus" among all UK nations.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted: “The Sunday papers is the first I’ve seen of the PM’s new slogan.

“It is of course for him to decide what’s most appropriate for England, but given the critical point we are at in tackling the virus, #StayHomeSaveLives remains my clear message to Scotland at this stage."

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