The First Minister has called on visitor to “treat Wales with respect” and “act responsibly” as the ‘stay local’ rule is lifted in Wales today.
The five-mile rule of thumb designed to slow the spread of coronavirus has meant that tourists were unable to travel far within Wales or over the border from the rest of the UK.
From today people will be able to travel freely into and within Wales and outdoor visitor attractions will also be able to reopen.
“We live in such a beautiful part of the world and I know many of us are looking forward to visiting beaches, the countryside and our many beauty spots,” the First Minister, Mark Drakeford said.
“People throughout Wales have done so much over the last few months to follow the rules and help reduce the spread of coronavirus – I thank them for their patience and understanding. I ask them to continue in this spirit.
“Unfortunately, over the recent weeks we’ve seen the results of people not treating parts of Wales with respect, with crowds leaving piles of litter in their wake. This selfish behaviour is a blight on our beauty spots and puts people at risk.
“While many footpaths and car parks are re-opening, not all facilities will be available in every location straight away. Please, check websites where possible and plan your visit. If your planned destination is too busy when you arrive, have a plan B ready and try an alternative car park or destination.
“Coronavirus has not gone away and, while the evidence shows the risk outdoors is lower, there is still a risk. We therefore need to continue to act responsibly. Be kind to local residents and to fellow visitors by parking considerately, leaving nothing behind and following the recently revised Countryside Code.”
Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Covid-19 Recovery, Darren Millar MS, said he welcomed the end of the restrictions.
“People across Wales have given up significant freedoms during the course of the coronavirus pandemic but today they are getting an important one back,” he said.
“The Welsh Government was wrong to impose an arbitrary five-mile travel restriction on its citizens. Such a limit was unnecessary, undermined people’s mental health and personal relationships, and made the reopening of many businesses unviable.
“I’m glad that the First Minister has finally caved in to our pressure and that these travel restrictions are now being lifted.
“The scrapping of this cruel rule can’t come too soon for those who will finally be able to see their loved ones for the first time in months, and for those who can finally reopen their businesses and get our economy moving again.”
The Welsh Government has been working with local authorities, national parks, Natural Resources Wales and other landowners to ensure Wales’ outdoors are ready to welcome visitors.
This includes new guidance about public toilets, focusing on hygiene, social distancing, signage and queuing. Not all public toilets, however, will be safe to re-open so people are being advised to check in advance what facilities will be open.
Visitors to the countryside are now asked to:
- Respect other people
- Consider the local community and other people enjoying the outdoors
- Park carefully so access to gateways and driveways are clear
- Leave gates and property as you find them
- Follow paths but give way to others where it’s narrow
- Protect the natural environment
- Leave no trace of your visit, take all your litter home
- Be careful with barbecues and don’t light fires
- Keep dogs under effective control
- Dog poo – bag it and bin it, or take it with you
- Plan ahead, check what facilities are open, be prepared
- Follow advice and local signs and obey social distancing measures
Tegryn Jones, chief executive of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority, said he urged visitors to respect the fact that others called Wales home.
“We know people have missed being outdoors and the important role that nature plays in supporting the health of our nation. We want to encourage people to enjoy Wales’ natural landscapes safely, responsibly and ultimately, more sustainably,” he said.
“National park communities are already working hard to ensure there will be a warm welcome for our visitors and we’re working hard with these communities and partners to ensure the national parks can be enjoyed safely by everyone.
“We urge those who choose to explore our landscapes in the coming weeks and months, perhaps for the first time, to do so with respect – for the people and wildlife, which call it home and for each other.”