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People flock to Snowdonia despite social distancing warning

Visitors ignored social distancing rules in March 2020 and flooded parts of Wales, including Snowdonia. Pen y Pass on Saturday 21st March.

Snowdonia National Park experienced its busiest ever visitor day in living memory this weekend.

Only 24 hours after the Prime Minister issued tighter measures to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus, these were the unprecedented scenes in Snowdonia yesterday.

Pen y Gwryd on Saturday 21st March.

The Snowdonia National Park Authority is now calling upon Government to institute clearer measures to protect people and rural communities in Wales.

The authority ‘fears that the current guidance is not explicit enough for people to protect themselves and others’.

Emyr Williams, Chief Executive of the Snowdonia National Park Authority said:

“On Friday night the prime minister announced new restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of the virus. This included ordering the closure of all pubs, cafes and hotels. In the 24 hrs following this announcement there have been unprecedented scenes in Snowdonia. We have experienced the busiest visitor day in living memory. The area has been overwhelmed with visitors. More worrying still is the significant crowding on the mountain summits and trails making it impossible to maintain effective social distancing”.

If steps aren’t taking, the authority is threatening to ‘shut down car parks and trails.’

Snowdonia is not the only area experiencing this problem; other visitor destinations across the world have also been overwhelmed. Yesterday, the Australian government were forced to close Bondai Beach following major over-crowding.

Local businesses reliant on the tourism sector in Snowdonia have been leading the way in making brave decisions over the past few days despite the economic impact it will have on them. Major attractions have closed their gates, small activity providers are cancelling their organised events and guided trips. Local restaurants and pubs are turning their focus to helping their local communities by supplying and delivering meals to the elderly and those in self-isolation. The communities and businesses within the National Park are pulling together to help one another, and we need our visitors to do the same.

This major influx to Snowdonia and North Wales in general has caused major concerns locally, with people worried about increased pressure on the NHS, rescue services, food supplies and visitor infrastructure, which is already under pressure due the pandemic.

First Minister Mark Drakeford

On Sunday, First Minister Mark Drakeford said that ‘if people don’t follow this advice we will have no choice but to use powers to enforce it.’

He said:

“Self-isolation for those who have symptoms and social distancing by everyone is absolutely essential at this stage if we are to delay the spread of this virus and save lives.

“We all need to follow this advice now to protect each other and our families and to help ensure our NHS is not overwhelmed.

“Social distancing includes avoiding all but essential travel and if people don’t follow this advice we will have no choice but to use powers to enforce it.”