Derby

Coronavirus: New measures 'a threat' to Peak District

Hope Valley Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Peak District National Park Authority has urged people to continue using local parks

New rules allowing anyone to travel to the Peak District are potentially dangerous, Derbyshire's police and crime commissioner has said.

Hardyal Dhindsa accused the government of "creating policy on the hoof" which brought "the threat of a localised outbreak" to the national park.

It comes after Boris Johnson announced that from Wednesday people can drive to parks and beaches to exercise.

The national park authority has urged people to continue using local parks.

Mr Dhindsa said new government guidelines meant "you can now apparently drive from Cornwall for a nice walk in the Peak District, and vice versa".

On Sunday, the prime minister announced that people could take unlimited exercise outside from Wednesday.

A government official also told the BBC people can drive to parks and beaches in England, as long as they observe social distancing while there.

Image copyright Derbyshire PCC
Image caption Hardyal Dhindsa said the government did not consult commissioners or chief constables

Mr Dhindsa said the advice meant the Peak District was "expected to host visitors who will flock to the area without any economic benefit, just the threat of a localised outbreak".

He said police and crime commissioners and chief constables were not consulted about the changes in regulations before guidance was published on Monday, meaning the authorities were "playing catch up".

"Things that we are picking up from the regulations after they were published don't seem to make sense," he said.

He said rural communities worry "their safety has been compromised" by the new advice, adding: "This is potentially dangerous and the result of creating policy on the hoof."

The Peak District National Park Authority has asked people to "consider if your journey to the Peak District is still necessary".

Chief executive Sarah Fowler said: "Continuing to use local parks and outdoor areas close to your home can continue to provide the crucial breathing space for you and for us."

Authority-run visitors centres, bike hire facilities, and cafes remain closed.

The new advice does not apply to national parks in Scotland or Wales, where the advice is to continue to exercise locally.

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