Cumbria has one of the highest coronavirus infection rates in the UK and ignoring the government’s stay at home guidance this bank holiday weekend will cost lives.
This stark warning comes from the Lake District National Park Authority, Cumbria Police and Cumbria County Council as they report an increase in the number of people travelling to and around the National Park.
Richard Leafe, Chief Executive of the Lake District National Park Authority said: “Usually at this time of year we’d be offering a warm welcome to visitors, but the Lake District, like the rest of the world, is not immune to the devastating effects of this pandemic. Sadly we’ve noticed an increase in the number of people travelling, camping and breaking the guidance recently, which puts our communities and each other at risk. Please continue to stay at home – we will be here to welcome you back as soon as the time is right.”
- 296 people have died* between 1 March and 3 May as a result of COVID-19.
- 186 are currently in hospital receiving treatment.
- Cumbria’s infection rate is one of the highest in the country at 391 per 100,000 people**
Cumbria’s Director of Public Health, Colin Cox commented: “Since the start of March nearly 300 local people have tragically died from COVID-19, with many still in hospital receiving treatment, and people continue to die both in hospital and in the community. It is only because people have behave responsibly and followed the guidance that there have not been many more deaths or people infected.
“There continues to be a risk to people in our communities, especially those who are vulnerable due to age or ill health and following the ‘stay at home’ guidance is as much about protecting them as protecting yourself. I urge people to behave responsibly and think about other people.
“While we’re seeing a slowing of the number of deaths and it looks like we may be past the peak in our hospitals, we can’t yet say the same about the wider community. We could easily see more infections and deaths if we don’t stick with the current measures.”
Local businesswoman, Maria Benjamin of Dodgson Wood based at Nibthwaite Farm, near Ulverston, talks of how important it is that people follow the Government guidelines. She says: “Last week we found a motorhome parked up next to a gateway to some of our land. People are interpreting the rules to suit themselves, deliberately choosing to ignore the potential harm they are causing. I understand how frustrating it must be, especially on a bank holiday weekend and the frustration is valid, but that is not a reason the drive to the Lakes and have a little mini-break.
“Flouting the guidelines is like a slap in the face to frontline workers, to people worried about the risk they put themselves in everyday to care for us and to families who have lost loved ones to the virus.”
Cumbria Constabulary’s Assistant Chief Constable, and Chair of Cumbria’s Strategic Co-ordinating Group, Andrew Slattery, said: “We have been asked by the Government to stay home to limit the spread of this lethal virus.
“As a group of agencies we were forced to plan for thousands of deaths in Cumbria, which was a very real threat before the implementation of Social Distancing. The vast majority of people have risen to that challenge and lives have been saved. However, a second and more serious wave of infection is a very real danger and we must do everything we can to prevent it.
“The danger has not passed.
“Cumbria has one of the highest infection rates nationally and there are still people suffering and dying in our hospitals and care homes. This is why it is so important that we all continue to follow the Government guidance. Focussing on what might result in a fine misses the point of why we have been asked to stay at home; to prevent the virus spreading and save people’s lives – including your own or those of your loved ones.
“The virus does not spread itself, it is only spread by people so please don’t travel unless it is really necessary, please don’t mix or socialise with people outside your household and please make sure that we drive this virus right down to reduce the risk of infection.
“Please stay at home this weekend. Do not put yourself or your family in harm’s way by travelling unnecessarily.”
Gill Haigh, Cumbria Tourism MD, says: “Cumbria Tourism thanks its visitors for staying away. Now, with the Bank Holiday Weekend ahead, we urge people to continue show that restraint and stay home – no matter how tempting it may be. Our mountains, lakes, attractions and hotels will still be here to welcome tourists and when it is once again safe to travel our businesses look forward to welcoming you back – but that time is not now.
“In the meantime you can still get your Lake District, Cumbria fix virtually. Businesses all across the county are sharing events, quizzes and videos online and through social media to help raise spirits during this difficult time. It may not be the same as visiting on person but right now it’s the best way to help save lives.”
*Deaths data is based on death certificates that referenced COVID-19.
**Due to differing levels of testing around the country, infection rate data based on confirmed cases should be treated with caution, and are likely to significantly under represent the true number of people who have been infected with COVID-19 in the county.