People are being urged to follow coronavirus guidance this weekend to help protect the NHS – and visitors are asked to stay away from the Lake District.
Hospitals in Cumbria are reporting extremely high numbers of patients with infection, resulting in health services coming under extreme strain.
Crime commissioner Peter McCall and county MPs John Stevenson (Carlisle); Mark Jenkinson (Workington); Simon Fell (Barrow and Furness); Tim Farron (Westmorland & Lonsdale); Trudy Harrison (Copeland) and Dr Neil Hudson (Penrith & the Border) released a statement this morning.
It said: “Ahead of the weekend, we are asking you to adhere to the government guidance to continue to stay home as much as possible and only leave for an essential reason such as shopping for necessities or exercising as close to home as possible and avoid travelling where you can.
“We all understand that outdoor exercise is vital for mental and physical wellbeing and that the risks when exercising safely outdoors are extremely low.
“However, any journey we make increases the chance of interacting with others, even if that is not planned.
“The virus does not spread by itself and it is crucial that we all reduce non-essential movement around the country and stay local to enable us to effectively fight the virus and suppress infection rates in our communities.
“Cumbria relies on visitors and tourists coming to our local area, and our partners are working hard behind the scenes so they can welcome people back when it is safe to do so.”
Mr McCall added: “It’s important that people continue to limit their time away from home as much as possible.
“I particularly want to say to people who love coming here to visit the Lakes and other Cumbria attractions that, if you love the area, please do your part to help return it to normality as soon as possible by staying away.
“We look forward to welcoming you back soon when it is safe to do so.
“We can sometimes focus attention on those who are not following the rules so I’d like to take the opportunity to thank the overwhelming majority of people who are respecting the
“Government guidance and staying home as much as possible we all need to do this so we can return our lives, businesses and economy to normal.
“Those who are making that sacrifice are not only protecting themselves and their family but breaking the chains of Coronavirus infection in their community.”
Mr Stevenson said: “We are now reaching a critical time when the vaccine is starting to be rolled out, but infection rates are still very high.
“It is now more than ever that we all need to follow the rules and guidance which will help slow the infection rate, reduce the pressure on the health service and allow the vaccination programme to help us all return to some normality.
“The public’s help in achieving this is central and I would encourage everyone to play their part.”
Mr Jenkinson said: “Firstly I would like to thank all of those residents in Cumbria who have followed the COVID guidance.
“As we embark on the vaccination programme, it is important that we continue to observe the guidance to protect those most vulnerable and to ensure that the NHS is protected.
“The sacrifices that we all make at this time will enable us to return to normal in Cumbria more quickly.”
Mr Fell said: “I would like to thank the incredibly dedicated teams who have been working in dozens of different areas, not least those keeping our hospitals running, schools open, and vaccinations deliveries on track as the pandemic drags on.
“It is essential that we work together to stop the spread of this virus, protecting not just ourselves and our loved ones, but also those key workers who are doing so much for us right now.”
Dr Hudson said: “I want to pay tribute and say a huge thank you to everyone working in our NHS and care sector at this time who are doing so much to keep us safe and caring for those who are affected by Covid and other health conditions.
“We are deeply indebted to you and I urge folk to keep abiding by the important public health guidelines so that we can protect the NHS and move forwards to ultimately getting through this pandemic.”
Mr Farron said: “I want to say a massive thank you to everyone who is doing their bit in this national effort to save lives and protect our friends, neighbours and loved ones working in the NHS.
“The next few weeks and months are going to be really tough, but the arrival and rollout of vaccines should give us all hope that the end of this pandemic is clearly in sight.
“Nothing would be more heart-breaking than to lose a loved one to this virus just weeks before they could be vaccinated. So, let’s all continue to play our part by staying at home to save lives.”
Mrs Harrison said: “All of us want to see an end to lockdown and the restrictions it has placed on our every day lives and the national vaccination programme now underway will give us the opportunity to finally return to normal living.
“However, the harsh reality is that COVID-19 is still out there and it is more virulent than it was even a few weeks ago.
“However great the temptation it is so very important that we all stick to the rules that government, through its scientific advisers has set out because we must continue to protect our NHS and save lives.
“We must never tire of adhering to the messages of staying at home when we can unless for exceptional circumstances such as shopping, getting medical supplies or exercising near your home.
“We must wash our hands regularly and wear face masks when required as well as maintaining social distancing.
“Copeland has many areas of natural beauty that people want to enjoy, but this is not the time to do that and I appeal to visitors to stay away and adhere to the rules that are in place for all of us.
“The sacrifices we make today will allow us to enjoy all those things we want to do in the future.”