Following the relaxation of Covid lockdown rules on Monday, many families across Devon and Cornwall are looking forward to an Easter weekend which could well include a visit to one of our many beauty spots.
Rangers, takeaway staff, and other workers at national parks and other common day tripping spots are gearing up for a busy bank holiday weekend.
The latest Government guidelines state that people can now meet up with others in outdoor locations within groups of six or two households.
It’s the first time a lot of people can legally meet friends and extended family in nearly four months.
People have already flocked to beauty spots around Devon following the easing of lockdown measures and the four-day weekend for many will be another opportunity to explore areas they have not been able to due to the recent restrictions.
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In preparation for the weekend rush, authorities have issued advice to people thinking of taking a trip to Bodmin Moor, Dartmoor, or one of Devon or Cornwall’s many hundreds of beaches.
Devon and Cornwall Police previously said, ahead of the relaxation of restrictions, it hoped people will be responsible when things open back up.
Temporary assistant chief constable Steve Parker said: “The move to reduce Covid-19 restrictions will be welcomed by some communities, but it may cause anxiety to others.
“While some areas of Covid-related enforcement the police have undertaken will cease, the message to stay local and respect Government guidelines to reduce risk does not change.
“Covid-19 has never been about policing a pandemic. While we are stepping back from some enforcement, I am asking the public to step-up as Covid-19 has not gone away.
“Government advice is for people to stay local and avoid unnecessary travel and I echo that request, but I am also aware that many will wish to meet with loved ones outside.
“Devon and Cornwall Police will maintain the approach of the 4Es to the new legislation using engagement, education and encouragement to ask members of the public to comply with the regulations. My hope is the public will continue to act responsibly and comply.”
Similarly, Dartmoor has advised people to plan ahead and to respect the surroundings with the safety of everyone being a high priority.
A message on the park’s website said: “The freedom to now travel and spend time on the moor in the fresh air will be a welcome mental and physical wellbeing boost – at this time of year it’s truly magical.
“We know that most people want to help us protect this special environment and it’s important to leave no trace of your visit.
“That way when you go, nature comes back and reclaims the space you left, making room for us all to share this special landscape.
Please continue to respect the people who live and work on Dartmoor.
“It is a working environment where farmers need to be able to tend their animals on open common land and in their fields.
“Please don’t park in gateways or driveways and avoid paths through farmyards and gardens.”
It also told people to “leave no trace, give nature space” – to help preserve the natural surroundings while enjoying the views.
This sentiment was also echoed by Exmoor park’s chief executive Sarah Bryan saying safety and wellbeing is a “top priority”.
“As restrictions ease this Easter and we are able to do more, it’s vital we stay aligned with the Government’s roadmap for moving out of lockdown, so as to not undermine the hard work we have all put in to suppressing the virus this winter,” she said.
“Your safety and wellbeing is our top priority and we would urge anyone planning a future trip to Exmoor to read the top tips on our website before you travel.
“Following this simple advice will help make a great day even better as together we take these first cautious steps out of lockdown.
“Perhaps not since national parks were founded after the second world war have they been so important to our country – places for people to connect with nature and each other, to renew and restore their health and wellbeing.
Visit Cornwall also told people, prior to Monday when rules started to relax, to be careful – so they can visit the county’s beauty spots safely when it is legal and safe.
Cornwall Council took this a step further, and has been driving a van around with the new rules from March 29 emblazed on the side.
The mobile advertising van warns people to adhere to the new rules to avoid going into a new lockdown.
Rachel Wigglesworth, director of public health for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, said: “I would urge everyone to make sure they know what the new rules are and not to break them.
“With the vaccine rollout going well and Covid cases having reduced due to the lockdown, it is easy to see how people might drop their guard and bend the rules in order to get that much-missed normality back in their lives. But this would be a huge mistake.
“It wouldn’t take much for the virus to creep back into our lives and communities and if that happens we could end up spending much longer living with these restrictions.
“No one wants another lockdown. So if you want to get back to doing the things you love, make sure you follow the rules, remember ‘hands, face and space’ and get your vaccine as soon as it is offered to you.”