THE chief executive of the Yorkshire Dales National Park and the area's MP have told people to stay away if they cannot observe Government advice over social distancing.

David Butterworth issued the warning after thousands of people poured into Malham and other places in the park yesterday (Saturday), blocking roads, and resulting in villagers pleading for visitors to keep away.

On Friday the national park issued guidance to help the general public to exercise safely outside during the COVID-19 outbreak.

It advocated people take active outdoor recreation alone or in small family groups, respecting social distancing with others and sticking to low risk, familiar activities and areas.

But it now says what happened on Saturday in parks, coastal resorts and rural locations across the UK was not social distancing or families sticking to low-risk activities and areas. It already took the step of closing all its visitor centres.

Mr Butterworth, said yesterday: “What we’ve seen today in so many towns and villages in the national park simply beggars belief.

"The number of people coming to the area today and acting so irresponsibly at a time of national crisis cannot be acceptable.

" If people chose to come here and ignore Government advice regarding social distancing, then I would suggest they do not travel to the Yorkshire Dales at all and stay at home.

“This appears to be the only way to better ensure the safety of all our residents and in particular key workers who live in the national park, who we need to be fit to support the fight against this dangerous virus."

Skipton MP Julian Smith has also urged people to stay away from villlages and tourist sites and remain at home.

"It is vital that we all follow the advice on and help protect strain in the NHS. Doing anything else threatens your life and the life of others."