Coronavirus: MP responds after Peak District resident fears relaxation of travel restrictions could lead to deaths in the area

A Peak District MP has reassured a constituent over fears that relaxed travel restrictions could lead to more Covid-19 deaths in the area.

Saturday, 16th May 2020, 2:14 pm
Updated Saturday, 16th May 2020, 2:14 pm

A Bradwell resident has written to her MP expressing her ‘horror’ over the Government’s relaxation of travel restrictions, fearing a massive influx of visitors to the area this weekend.

Jane Turley of Bradwell wrote to Derbyshire Dales MP Sarah Dines after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced last Sunday that people in England could spend time outdoors, sunbathe and travel to beauty spots from Wednesday.

Visitors expected to flock to the Peak District this weekend.

She wrote: “It is clear to many of us that - as a result of the reckless statement of the PM on Sunday that, from today, people may now travel any distance to take exercise - there will be a massive influx of visitors to this area this weekend.“When the inevitable hoard of visitors arrive they will find limited facilities. We have just one village shop plus a small post office . The staff in our shops have bravely continued to provide an essential service to all of us in this village, enabling us to restrict our travel by shopping here.”Visitors would increase the risk of infection in places which are the hub of the community and put the whole village at substantially increased risk, she said, and added that so far there had been only one recorded death due to Covid19 in S33, but commented: “If you do not take action to stop what is plain for all to see, the statistics will demonstrate that you knowingly followed a course of action that leads to deaths in this area.”

And the MP responded with: “I appreciate that some constituents are understandably concerned about the rise in the number of visitors to the Peak District in line with the new guidance. Due to these fears, I have been in touch with various stakeholders today, including the Chief Constable of Derbyshire Constabulary. I was reassured to hear from the Chief Constable that the police will be visible across Derbyshire Dales over the weekend.”

The Government had been guided by the science, provided by SAGE and the risk of infection outside was significantly lower than the risk inside, she added.

And while she said she ‘recognised the benefit to public health that outside space provides’, she encouraged people to stay local where possible.

Regulations around social distancing remained in force and it was vitally important that people maintain social distance when visiting beauty spots. If needed new restrictions could be brought in.

She added: “When we first became aware of this crisis and social distancing was introduced, I was one of the first MPs to write to government to ask that they do not encourage visitors to come to the Peak District. In fact, I went one step further, in asking the farming Minister, George Eustice to consider closing footpaths that go through working farms. Now, we are moving forward, and we all need to adopt a common-sense approach when enjoying the countryside.

“Communities across the whole country have a responsibility to protect all of those in our communities, including the vulnerable residents in Derbyshire Dales.“