The following is a press release issued by Exmoor National Park Authority:
Exmoor National Park was a much quieter place at the weekend following updated Government coronavirus guidelines stating that people should stay local and use green spaces near their home.
Teams from Avon & Somerset and Devon & Cornwall police backed by National Park Rangers worked together to reinforce the message that the public should stay at home and not travel to countryside beauty spots for exercise or any other non-essential reason.
The response follows extraordinarily high numbers of visitors across the UK’s 15 national parks last weekend, triggering concern that people travelling to them en masse could spread the virus.
Dan Barnett, Access & Recreation Manager, said: “We’re extremely grateful to everyone for foregoing their visits to the National Park over the weekend and until restrictions lift. The importance of these places for people’s health and wellbeing cannot be underestimated and we fully appreciate the sacrifice many are making to protect fellow citizens.”
The Government have been clear that public rights of way should remain open for local people to exercise. Anyone accessing the countryside from their own home must keep at least 2 metres apart from other people, sanitise hands regularly and wash them on return. Dogs should be kept under close control, on a short lead or at heel.
The law in England does not allow the National Park Authority to close any part of the public rights of way network for COVID-19 reasons. Anyone with concerns about public access can contact the National Park’s Ranger team for advice at email@example.com or 01398 323665.
Dan Barnett added: “Public rights of way that cross working farms or are close to people’s homes can cause concern for those self-isolating there due to age or ill-health. This is understandable and we ask that people are extra vigilant with their hygiene in these areas. As always spring is lambing time for many of our farmers, so please take care to close gates behind you and always keep dogs on a lead near livestock or moorland where birds may be nesting.”
The National Park Authority are only available to inspect rights of way where there are emergency or safety issues at this time. Issues can be logged online at Explore Somerset (roam.somerset.gov.uk/roam/map) or by contacting the National Park’s Ranger team. For up-to-date Rights of Way advice see: www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/enjoying/out-and-about-essentials.