Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update
Tuesday 17 March 2020
Last updated: 18 May 2020 (9.30am)
Our latest statements
- Message from the Chief Executive - 11 May
- Increased fire risk an added factor to stay at home - 24 April
- Lockdown extended statement - 17 April
- Easter statement - 9 April
- 'Stay away' campaign and rights of way - 31 March
- Moorland management - 25 March
- Message from the Chief Executive - 24 March
- High visitor numbers at the weekend - 22 March
- Message from the Chief Executive - 19 March
Statement from Sarah Fowler, Chief Executive - 11 May
It is no surprise that as we take the first steps in the easing of 'lockdown' in this time of unprecedented national crisis, many of us turn to our national parks as a place of sanctuary.
Across almost seven decades – and a past that has rarely seen anything of the magnitude of the coronavirus – our national parks have never been more relevant to the country’s need for health, wellbeing and connection with nature, beauty and history.
Whilst we may need our national parks at this time, our relationship with them remains precariously balanced with the current risks to everyone from Covid-19. So as we prepare to welcome you back, let us draw upon that remarkable sense of respect, kindness and humanity we have seen so far in our fight against this disease.
This is why I am personally appealing today to anyone seeking to travel to the Peak District National Park. Before your journey, please carefully consider your own wellbeing and that of the Peak District’s many small communities - and be aware that the vast majority of facilities including hospitality businesses will not be open for a little while yet.
Continuing to use local parks and outdoor areas close to your home can continue to provide the crucial breathing space for you and for us, to ensure the Peak District can be a safe and welcoming place to visit in the weeks to come. In this way we can ensure we don’t place undue pressure on public highways, emergency access or key workers.
With around 2,000 Covid-19 cases across Derbyshire alone and local services and resources already fighting on a significant front, it is vital that we limit the impacts on our residential towns and villages wherever possible.
With a huge collective effort in respecting our national parks right now, they can be protected and will be there for us all to enjoy far beyond this current coronavirus crisis, including a responsible and vital return for our tourism sector.
Those who live and work in our communities are already working hard to ensure there will be a warm welcome so our National Park can equally be enjoyed safely by everyone.
National Park Authority operations during COVID-19 restrictions
The National Park Authority is currently operating as normal, but with the majority of its administrative functions taking place remotely and through home working by its staff. Specific information on visitor facilities, access and planning & development can be found in the sections below. You may continue to contact the National Park on 01629 816200 or on email@example.com.
Due to the high volume of queries and staff capacity, response times may be slightly longer than usual. National Park HQ at Aldern House is currently closed to the public, and all meetings have been postponed or will be taking place via virtual portals or teleconference.
National Park access during COVID-19 government restrictions
As a Category V National Park with multiple public highways and rights of way within our boundary, we remain open to access. Whilst some travel restrictions have been relaxed from 13 May 2020, please consider if your journey to the Peak District is still necessary. The majority of visitor facilities including hospitality businesses remain closed for the time being. Social distancing measures continue to apply - please observe these at all times for the safety of communities, businesses and staff from agencies working in the National Park.
Our visitor centres, bike hire facilities, and public toilets were closed on 18 March and our North Lees campsite closed on 23 March. These facilities will re-open when it is safe to do so in accordance with government guidance and the welfare of both staff and visitors can be maintained. We will provide further information when an increased and full range of our facilities are available to use again.
Hand-washing opportunities in the National Park are extremely limited. We recommend that you bring an appropriate hand sanitiser and clean your hands at the start and end of your visit as well as following contact with surfaces. Around half of our pay and display car parks have the option for contactless card payments where technology and location allows.
Food & Drink concessions: In line with government measures on the closure of non-essential retail, any private Food & Drink concessions operating on our facilities are now closed.
Public Rights of Way and signage: At the current time, we ask that those with rights of way on their land do not voluntarily close these routes until further UK guidance is received – any decision on access changes would not be at the discretion of the National Park Authority.
Q: What about events?
The events programme offered by the National Park Authority is affected up to the end of April 2020 and possibly longer. This includes cancellations or postponements to; guided walks, nature tots and public ‘drop-in’ events.
If you have registered to attend an event, you will also be contacted directly and refunds will be processed where payment has already been taken.
If the event you are due to attend is not run by the National Park Authority, please contact the event organiser directly.
Major event cancellations in the National Park we have been made aware of:
- RHS Chatsworth
Q: I am a regular volunteer, what should I do?
To ensure the safety of our volunteers, staff and local communities we have taken the very difficult decision to suspend all volunteering with the Peak District National Park Authority with immediate effect until further notice. Registered volunteers will also be contacted directly through our volunteers database. We would like to thank all of our volunteers for your continued dedication and contribution to the Peak District National Park, and look forward to welcoming you back when it is appropriate for us to do so.
Q: Is National Park HQ still open?
As of Monday 23 March, our Aldern House HQ will be closed to the public. Vehicles (including deliveries) will only be able to access the building through the northern entrance gate via the electronic barrier. Staff and business tenants will be able to access the office via their pass. If you have a meeting scheduled at the office, please contact the relevant staff member, or 01629 816200 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: What about public meetings and committees?
Upcoming committees are expected to be cancelled or postponed until further notice.
Q: What about planning applications?
The Development Management service is reacting to the current situation regarding the Covid-19 virus. New planning applications are currently being registered and allocated to officers. However, due to reduced staffing numbers and remote working, there is a significant delay throughout the application process.
Site visits and meetings are not being carried out. Consultation on planning applications will continue. If you have been consulted on an application, or wish to comment and require an extension of time to respond, please contact the case officer. We are providing the service as far as we are able to while ensuring we comply with Government guidance for safeguarding of our staff and customers.
The consultation processes for applications have changed. Local newspapers are not being published and therefore we are unable to post Notices in the press. Where an application requires a yellow site notice, these are being displayed at the development site. You can view the weekly list of planning applications received by the Authority.
If you have made a report of potentially unauthorised development to us, there will be delays in investigating and responding to these reports.
Although the current situation is unprecedented, no development should take place without the necessary permissions in place.
Community Support / Information
The following online support/initiatives may provide assistance:
- Let's Go Peak District – local businesses offering additional or alternative community services
- Visit Peak District - visitors - information for tourists and visitors
- Visit Peak District - businesses - tourism business sector guidance
- Derbyshire County Council - support fund information
- Derbyshire County Council - business advice
- Derbyshire County Council - business hardship fund
- Derbyshire County Council - community response unit
- Safer Derbyshire - domestic abuse support line
- High Peak CVS - High Peak Community and Voluntary Support directory
- High Peak Borough Council - Coronavirus information hub
As a National Park team, we are in contact with our colleagues at local authorities and other agencies, and remain ready to offer our support and resources. To ensure this is most effective, we will be coordinating any activity in partnership with relevant response teams from these organisations.
National Park urges public to 'keep up the good work' on its 69th birthday as lockdown extended
As the Peak District welcomes its 69th year since being designated as a National Park (Friday 17 April), the National Park Authority asks the public to ‘keep up the good work’ as the government’s lockdown is extended for a further three weeks.
The call comes as monitoring counters at popular visitor spots such as the Monsal Trail have showed a continued drop of around 95% in visits during lockdown period.
The Peak District, along with other UK national parks, has urged visitors to stay away to help reduce the impact on local emergency services and help protect social distancing for the 38,000 residents of the National Park.
A National Park Authority spokesperson said: “Like anyone, we normally look forward to celebrating our annual anniversary, but this year more than ever it’s vital we just have a ‘quiet one’ at home.
“The lockdown extension is going to be a tough challenge for us all, but we hope the public will carry on adhering to the government measures and we continue to see the significantly reduced levels of visitors we’ve been heartened by over the last three weeks.
“We already knew our 70th birthday in 2021 would be very special, not least as the UK’s original national park, but after so many of us sacrificing our usual spring memories of the Peak District this year, it will take on an extra special significance.”
Statement - 9 April
As the country comes towards the end of a third week of coronavirus ‘lockdown’ the Peak District National Park Authority is urging people not to be tempted to break government measures during the Easter break.
National Park ranger patrols, in partnership with the police and other agencies, have consistently recorded a significant drop in visitors since government restrictions were put in place on 23rd March.
Visitor activity trackers at locations, such as the popular Monsal Trail near Bakewell, have been recording around a 90 per cent drop in numbers, with the remaining volume expected to be some of the National Park’s 38,000 residents taking recommended daily exercise.
The government’s advice remains for people to stay at home and exercise locally, with car journeys limited to those attending work or undertaking essential services.
Read the full statement.
Statement - 31 March
The Peak District National Park Authority has thanked the public for ‘staying away’ following an impassioned campaign to help protect communities and key workers.
The campaign was launched after visitors were seen in large numbers at many popular locations and car parks last week, despite government advice to avoid non-essential journeys such as travelling by car to the Peak District. The Authority’s teams have reported that the same locations were largely deserted during this weekend.
Continuing to stay at home and making use of green spaces from your doorstep is the simplest and most effective action the public can take in tackling COVID-19 in the Peak District and elsewhere.
For many residents, their local green space is access to their nearby rights of way network.
Moorland management in the Peak District
The Peak District National Park have today (25 March) called on land managers to stop any prescribed or controlled burns at this time within the Peak District moorlands.
The call comes as a period of dry weather and unseasonably mild temperatures has increased the fire risk in parts of the National Park.
Regional fire and rescue services and gamekeepers have already responded to a number of fires involving moorland and other vegetation in recent days, with one blaze stretching along a fire line of over a mile.
Chief executive Sarah Fowler said: "At a time when our emergency services are already under enormous strain as a result of COVID-19, it is vital that we do not add to this pressure.
"The Moorland Association who represent many of our upland land managers, has already advised its members of the current wildfire risks and associated implications under COVID-19 restrictions and support a suspension of heather burning and to use cutting instead.
"At this time it is not acceptable that emergency services be drawn away to deal with otherwise avoidable incidents, as well as the damage that uncontrolled fires can have on the important habitats of our Peak District uplands – at a time when many wildlife species are at the beginning of their breeding season.
"With these services already stretched, we cannot expect our fire crews to attend incidents that are putting their teams in close proximity to each other, as well as the risk placed on moorland managers not being able to heed the need for social distancing, and taking fire crews to often remote locations. Our focus must rightly be on supporting the coronavirus response for all our local communities.
"This comes alongside our call yesterday (24.03.20) for visitors to stay away from the Peak District to adhere to government restrictions to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives. Individual actions now will make a crucial differences in the weeks ahead."
Message from our Chief Executive (24 March)
Our Prime Minister last night made it clear we are now facing a national emergency as we tackle the coronavirus outbreak.
He clearly and starkly spelled out what all of us need to do; stay at home, protect the NHS, and save lives. That’s why today we have closed all of our National Park Authority offices, ranger hubs and visitor facilities including car parks. I have also asked our staff remain at home, unless undertaking essential safety tasks, in line with strict government guidance.
It is now absolutely critical for our Peak District communities, businesses, farmers and key workers within the National Park that we all take these measures extremely seriously. Which is why as well as us taking action I ask all our partners and many communities also to follow the government’s measures to the letter; ensuring that we do not put undue and unnecessary pressure on often limited local services and emergency personnel.
As a chief executive and passionate advocate for all that our national parks stand for, it seemed almost unthinkable that we would arrive at a situation where I have, and must, ask those who do not live in, or work on essential services in, the Peak District to please stay away.
We have weathered many challenges in our almost 70 year history and, when the time is right, we will once again welcome everyone to this place which so many millions of us love and hold dear.
It is so often in these extraordinary circumstances that we learn the importance of nature, beauty and history to our health and sense of wellbeing. That’s why I feel so strongly that our individual efforts now to take on this battle against coronavirus are so important - so that we may once again be able to let nature help our personal and collective recovery.
As we enter this period of unprecedented uncertainty, I ask everyone to heed the government’s advice and any information provided by the National Park Authority on the ground.
I wish good health to you all and your families.
Chief Executive, Peak District National Park
Update 22 March 2020
The Peak District National Park has seen extremely high numbers of visitors in recent days.
The government has been clear on the need to avoid unnecessary contact with others to maintain the social distancing measures that are vital for us all to help reduce the impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19). It is important that we all consider our social responsibilities to help tackle this outbreak, and as government advice states, travel should be avoided unless absolutely necessary. This is no more important than in the Peak District, which is a living and working landscape and community for many thousands of people.
These are unprecedented times for us all, and this situation remains fast-moving, complex and challenging.
If your visit to the National Park is not absolutely necessary, please consider alternative green spaces closer to home, and we will update our coronavirus pages regularly with how government guidance may affect our activities.
Working together we can all help during this coronavirus crisis and the National Park, our businesses and communities will be ready to welcome everyone when it is once again safe to do so.
Thank you, and stay safe.
Message from our Chief Executive (19 March)
We are in unprecedented times as we work together to reduce the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) on our communities and adjust to what will be a new 'normal' for the foreseeable future.
I want to share with you what we are doing in response to the pandemic and the support I hope our national parks can play in the days, weeks and months ahead.
Our activities as an organisation can be seen here on this page below and will be updated regularly. Our staff have been asked to work from home where possible. We have had to cancel a number of events this spring and some of our facilities and services are impacted. We apologise if this means things don't run as smoothly for you and I thank you for your patience and understanding.
National Parks were founded in a time of great societal change to help re-build Britain after the war; we were created for the well-being and health of the nation. At our heart, we offer some of the best outdoor places for all to experience and enjoy nature, beauty and history.
During this pandemic we remain available for all to enjoy, in line of course with the latest government advice. For those of us who will struggle at some stage with the limitations of reduced social contact, a friendly smile or warm greeting exchanged on a trail or footpath can provide a small but welcome boost. I recognise that during this time not everyone will be able to get outside to access our national parks. I would like to assure you our passionate staff continue to work hard to ensure this special place is well cared for. All our staff and volunteers hope the Peak District - the enjoyment, pleasure and the memories it has bought - will continue to bring you comfort.
This outbreak will be a major blow to our rural businesses; local and bespoke help and advice for them is here. We will also share details of community support programmes we are made aware of below. We also stand ready to assist with the wider response, and I have this week offered support to our local resilience forum.
This pandemic will force us to re-evaluate what really matters. Let us hold our loved ones dear and make the safety of our families and communities the number one priority. Let us also look ahead to consider how we can become a more healthy, active, nation and one more connected to our natural world than ever before.
With good wishes,