SKIPTON residents are being urged to 'listen to what is being said' after Prime Minister Boris Johnson effectively locked down the country on Monday night.

After hordes of people were seen flocking to coasts and beauty spots at the weekend - including villages in the Dales, Mr Johnson said he had no alternative but to impose unprecedented draconian measures to try and stop the spread of coronavirus.

Skipton Town Mayor, Councillor Peter Madeley responded to the lockdown saying: “The situation we find ourselves in at the moment is both unprecedented, uncertain and unsettling for the people of Skipton and for the rest of the country.

"The measures put in place by the government are unheard of in modern times but it is vital that we all listen to what is being said and that we all play our part.

"We all need to listen to the advice and the instructions we have been given and we need to act on it. We need to encourage our family, friends and work colleagues to do the same.

"We also need to look out for others. One thing we know is that Skipton has a fantastic and very active community spirit and it is at times like this that the community pulls together for the greater good.

"There have already been some fantastic local initiatives set up to help those less able to help themselves and, particularly, to help vulnerable Skipton residents who are now unable to safely leave their homes. The fact that these initiatives were set up so quickly makes me very proud as a local resident and as town mayor and I applaud all of those volunteering to help out.

By continuing to pull together, supporting the vulnerable, supporting those working hard to keep us safe and providing essential services, we can come through this crisis with an even stronger local community than before. I wish you all the very best.”

Leader of Skipton Town Council, Councillor Robert Heseltine added: "Skipton Town Council is fully accepts all its responsibilities towards its staff, towards its public and towards those that look to it for services.

"These are unprecedented times. Following the science behind the Prime Minister's advice we must adhere to these directions confident that as a nation and as a town we will come through this adversity."

Most shops in the high street were closed immediately with orderly queues forming outside Boots Chemist, one of the shops allowed to remain open, by people waiting for prescriptions.

A number of food traders on Skipton market have asked to continue trading. The town council says it will support that provided they stick to very strict social distancing measures, which market staff will monitor very closely.

Last week traders were told the town council was waiving the trader fees paid to the council for two months with a view to it being extended if necessary.

The town council also said it was going to write to the 'frontages', the businesses which the market traders pay rent to for using the space on the setts, to see if they will relax the rents for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic.

Action already taken by the town council includes closing playgrounds and play areas. Recreation grounds like Middletown and Bold Venture are open for people to exercise, but associated play areas are closed.

Coach Street toilets are closed as a sufficiently safe cleaning frequency could not be maintained.

Allotments will stay open - but new guidance has been put in place with notices at all sites asking tenants to limit visits, to stick to their own plot and to follow all government guidance on social distancing.

It is also working very closely with the residents at our Heap Parkinson Homes almshouses on Otley Road to ensure they are supported and that they can get essential supplies etc.

Dave Parker, chief officer at Skipton Town Council, said: "The situation is changing every day and the Council is doing everything it can to keep on top of things, whilst ensuring the safety and welfare of our staff. We are implementing all government advice, whilst trying to support service users, market traders and our almshouse residents. We are working closely - although mainly in the virtual sense of the word - with other agencies and partners to make the best use of our limited resources."