The leaders of three local authorities bordering Morecambe Bay have asked people to think twice before visiting the area.
The councils have spoken out as a united front following recent government guidance lifting limits on how far people can drive to enjoy open spaces.
Ahead of what would normally be expected to be a busy bank holiday weekend, Lancaster City Council, South Lakeland District Council (SLDC) and Barrow Borough Council are all concerned about the potential impact extra visitors may have on the coronavirus infection rate.
Despite the lifting of restrictions, with people now allowed to drive anywhere in the UK for exercise, the leaders of all three local authorities say now is not the time to take a trip to Morecambe Bay.
Although the views remain among the best in the UK, the infrastructure and amenities are not operating as usual, with many cafes, businesses and attractions closed.
Councillor Dr Erica Lewis, leader of Lancaster City Council, said: “The government guidance may have changed but that does not mean we should cast aside common sense.
“The safety and well-being of our communities remains paramount and the last thing any of us wants to see is a spike in the infection rate that leads to further deaths from coronavirus.
“We all need to be responsible and control the spread of the virus and this is not the time for people to rush back to the area.
“Our beautiful coastline will still be there for people when all of this is over and we can welcome visitors back properly, with a full range of amenities and facilities for them to enjoy.
“To beat the virus we all need to stay safe and stay local.”
SLDC Leader, Councillor Giles Archibald, said: “The communities around Morecambe Bay are home to many and varied outdoor spaces. We have always been proud to share them with others – but we must continue to ask people to stay local to their homes at the moment.
“While the rates of coronavirus infections and deaths are lessening, the danger to us all is still very real.
“Of course, we cannot stop people coming if they wish and we ask anybody who does travel here to behave with respect and care – respecting the communities being visited, respecting the risk of spreading the disease, and respecting the rules of observing social distancing and avoiding crowds, washing hands regularly, as well as no overnight stays, no camping and no visiting second homes.
“If you do decide to defer your visit until safer times, we thank you and look forward to giving you a hearty welcome when you do come to see us.”
Councillor Ann Thomson, leader of Barrow Borough Council, said: “We’re incredibly proud of all that Barrow and Morecambe Bay have to offer and we understand people are keen to get out, enjoy some fresh air and to make the most of the bank holiday weekend ahead.
“However, it’s imperative we do everything possible to protect our communities from the further spread of this virus. The public can make a vital contribution to these efforts by postponing their visit to our coastline for the time being.
“We’ll look forward to welcoming people back as soon as we can.”
Anyone that does choose to visit the area is asked to carefully consider both their own well-being and that of the communities they are visiting:
Keep your distance – observe social distancing and stay 2 metres apart from other people;
Avoid hotspots and busy spots – everyone has their favourite places, but if large numbers of people all head to the same place, it becomes impossible to safely socially distance, putting you, your family and others at risk. If you arrive at a site that is already busy, please find an alternative.
Bring your own food and drink to avoid pressure on local shops. Many cafes and restaurants are closed and supermarkets are busy servicing locals;
Consider the lack of toilet and washing facilities and don’t behave in an anti-social manner;
Don’t put yourself at risk – it could lead to additional pressures on the emergency services if you require assistance;
Wash your hands regularly;
Stay alert, be kind and respect one another.