Police: North Wales still closed to visitors despite ‘contradicting media reports’
Police have said ‘North Wales is still closed to visitors’ despite some reports in the media that driving to the countryside to take exercise is acceptable.
A number of stories appeared in the press on Thursday based on a previously unseen police document that moves to clear up confusion around social distancing regulations brought in at the end of March.
The guidance published for English forces by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) and the College of Policing appears to give some contradictory advice on exercise to that which had previously been published.
The document uses information taken from a Crown Protection Service (CPS) guide on what might and what might not constitute a ‘reasonable excuse’ to leave the place where you live.
The College of Policing document says the CPS “kindly allowed us to reproduce this to help officers, however, each case still needs to be considered based on the individual facts as they present themselves.”
It goes on to says: “Some public statements made soon after the adoption of the Regulations suggested that members of the public could only leave their homes if ‘essential’ to do so.”
Regulation 6 of the The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 states no person may leave the place where they live without a reasonable excuse.
Wales has its own act, The Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (Wales) Regulations 2020 which is largely the same, though there are some differences, more here.
On exercise, the guidance states the “driving to countryside and walking – where far more time is spent walking than driving – is ‘likely to be reasonable’.
Driving for a prolonged period with only brief exercise, is likely to be ‘not reasonable’ the guidance states.
The document reads: “Exercise can come in many forms, including walks. Exercise must involve some movement, but it is acceptable for a person to stop for a break in exercise.
However, a very short period of ‘exercise’ to excuse a long period of inactivity may mean that the person is not engaged in ‘exercise’ but in fact something else. It is lawful to drive for exercise.”
North Wales Police said it is.“continuing to urge the public to adhere to Government guidelines to stay home and stay safe this weekend.”
“Despite contradicting media reports relating to exercise guidance the force is reminding people that North Wales is currently closed to visitors.”
Deputy Chief Constable Richard Debicki, said: “Our tourist attractions, mountains, pubs, restaurants, caravan, holiday parks and campsites are all closed.
We completely understand that people want to go outside to enjoy the warm weather predicted for the weekend, however this is a national emergency and we will continue to ensure government guidelines around essential travel and social distancing are adhered to.
Please only travel if your journey is absolutely essential.
This means either shopping for food or medicine and for traveling to and from work if you cannot work from home.
Our policing style remains unchanged, and we will be operating in a very visible way on our road networks and in towns and villages ensuring that people are complying with the restrictions.
Our actions will remain proportionate and fair at all times, and we know from working with our communities here that people are supportive of our actions.
It is not regarded as essential travel to drive to the National Park and other beauty spots to walk or exercise.
Neither is it essential travel to drive to second and holiday homes. Please stay in your primary residence.
North Wales will still be here once the pandemic is over and we look forward to getting things back to normal and welcoming people back as soon as we can.
The guidance from the UK Government and Welsh Government remains that exercise should be done locally, using open spaces near to your home where possible.
Our focus continues to be to reassure, inform and engage with people so they understand why these restrictions are in place.
Teams are out and about and our officers will continue to engage with people, establish their individual circumstances and will continue to explain the risks and warn of the consequences of failing to comply with the guidance.”
DCC Debicki added: “The NHS and other key workers are doing an incredible job in keeping the public safe, but we ask you to consider that increasing the population of our area will place an unreasonable burden on them.
People should not think of ways of circumventing the law, this is about making sure loved ones don’t die because of a few selfish actions, the police should not be needed to reinforce common sense.
Everyone must contribute to the national effort to respond to the coronavirus outbreak and I am grateful to the vast majority who have made significant changes to their daily habits and routines. You really are playing your part in helping to save lives.”
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