Staff and police monitoring Welsh beauty spots like Snowdonia and the Brecon Beacons are “getting abuse” by some people they are turning away.
Despite Level 4 stay-at-home restrictions in place across Wales, the national parks have been busy with visitors over the Christmas and New Year break, including some from Tier 4 areas like London, Southampton and Kent.
During the weekend, North Wales Police had to turn several people away from Snowdonia and Dyfed Powys Police have been patrolling the Brecon Beacons, especially Pen Y Fan.
A decision on whether to close the car parks at the national parks is “under review”.
Brecon Beacons Chief Executive Officer Julian Atkins said that the area had been very busy during the holiday because of the weather, and he said that police and wardens were “struggling” to cope with the number of visitors.
“The snow brought a lot of people out, not just to our National Park, but to Snowdonia and the Pembrokeshire coast as well,” he told BBC Radio Wales. “It has been very, very busy and I know the police and our wardens have been struggling to manage the numbers that have been coming.”
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He added: “”We are continuing to monitor the situation in terms of whether we need to take any further action in terms of closures because it is clear people aren’t following the rules.
“We found during the first lockdown and the fire-break that the travel restrictions were working.
“We are now 10 months into this pandemic and people are perhaps suffering a bit of fatigue in terms of not being allowed to do what they would normally do.
“We have seen people come from London, Cheltenham, Hertfordshire and places like that. Clearly that is against the rules. Welsh Government guidance is very clear that people should be exercising close to home, staying home and only travelling for essential purposes.”
Mr Atkins said: “People who have come have said they wanted to get out and enjoy the countryside and that they felt the risks were relatively low. We do know that colleagues in Snowdonia have suffered abuse at the hands of people who don’t understand that our staff are simply trying to do their jobs. The police have been trying to engage with members of the public and advise them of the rules and advise.
“People’s tempers and frustrations sometimes come to the surface in those situations in terms of people don’t like being told they shouldn’t be doing what they are doing. There are people who don’t understand why we are advising people that they shouldn’t be visiting the countryside at this time and it can be challenging for our staff.
“It has been challenging. We want people to visit our countryside but when we are dealing with a pandemic and we need people to think of the wider good when people are thinking about how to spend their recreation.
“Communities are very concerned about people travelling long distances. The advice is clear to look for places to exercise on your doorstep.”
-- to www.walesonline.co.uk