Second home owners heading to North Yorkshire boltholes 'are putting others at risk'
Fears have been raised that a wave of second home owners who have moved from coronavirus hotspot cities to their countryside boltholes “to ride out the outbreak” have put themselves and others at further risk.
Councillors representing communities in and around the North York Moors and Yorkshire Dales national parks said anxiety was mounting among residents due to a significant number of arrivals of people from places such as London and Birmingham, where rates of the virus are far higher.
Lower Swaledale and Arkengarthdale councillor Richard Good said there had been a “very effective police presence” in turning back visitors from the Yorkshire Dales at the weekend, but there had been a clear and marked increase in the number of people with second homes relocating to the national park.
He said: “The influx of people coming from coronavirus hotspots like London to weather the outbreak in the Dales has concerned some of the locals.”
County councillor Greg White, whose Pickering division includes some of the North York Moors, said while some smaller communities had seen few if any second home owners arriving, concerns had been raised over the effect on the NHS of incomers in larger rural settlements such as Helmsley.
Community leaders said towns surrounding the national parks were seeing far higher numbers of people at shops than would be normal for the time of year, increasing the chances of the virus being spread.
They said those relocating to remote areas of North Yorkshire would have far worse access to healthcare than they would in cities, but said a return to their urban homes could exacerbate problems.
Councillor Bryn Griffiths, who represents Stokesley on the county council, said: “Visitors should definitely not be coming to North Yorkshire to stay in second homes or in holiday cottages. I urge people to report any instances to the police to deal with.
"It will potentially lead the Covid-19 virus being spread further into our communities and put unnecessary extra pressure on local health services, which are already under strain.”
While some residents said it was vital to keep public footpaths open, members of the Yorkshire Farming Community Network said they had been alarmed by continuing to see walkers in national parks, saying they could spread the Covid-19 virus by handling gates and latches.