BY NICK PEARCE
The rise in visitors to the UK countryside during lock-down has continued. There is a tangible fear amongst rural folk who are meeting an increasing number of walkers on thin country lanes and footpaths crossing farmland. These walkers seem to think that social distancing no longer applies out in the fields and rural lanes, as if the countryside is somehow immune to Covid 19. Two metres’ distance may be enforced in supermarkets but not out in the countryside, so they do not care.
The North is seeing a steep rise in rural visitors. Despite numerous warnings to day-trippers to not visit North Yorkshire last weekend, police have confirmed that they issued 61 fines last weekend to people who were not following government guidance and were making unnecessary journeys. 31 fines were issued on Saturday to people visiting from West Yorkshire, Lancashire, Cumbria and as far away as Kent. 17 fines were issued in one picturesque village alone. A further 30 fines were issued on Sunday.
Up until last weekend, the vast majority of visitors to rural areas have acted responsibly and in accordance to government guidance and they have abided by the rules around only travelling for essential reasons. How difficult is it to stand aside while locals walk by or call out to a farm worker if you are coming across the field he or she is working in? How difficult is it to put your dog on a lead? Some people are now blatantly ignoring the reason why we have been in a lock-down situation for the past six weeks and are making a decision to no longer stay home and save lives. This is unacceptable.
This virus is not yet beaten and the threat of a second peak of infection is very real. That’s why we must keep the lock-down – to protect our love ones, our children, partners, parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters. This is not about finding loopholes in the guidance to justify having a day out and thereby threatening the well-being of rural folk who are helping put food on our plates.