THE Lake District National Park has issued strong advice for tourists to avoid the area during the Coronavirus pandemic.

The body has also taken a number of measures, it says, to restrict access to the Lakes in order to protect the surrounding communities.

This has included: closing various visitor centres and attractions; a suspension of Rights of Way maintenance; authority-operated car parks will be closed from today, except for local and emergency use; the popular winter Fell Top Assessor reporting service has also stopped.

Signs have also been put up to remind people to respect farmers and landowners’ properties during social distancing and isolation periods.

The National Park authority joins MPs like Tim Farron who have made similar pleas to tourists in the past 24 hours.

Chief Executive of the Lake District National Park Authority, Richard Leafe, said: “The Government has made it very clear that all non-essential travel shouldn't happen, so we are asking people not to come to the Lake District on the basis of that advice.

"Please remember the limited resources that support our local communities, businesses, farmers, police and rescue services are all under pressure at the moment.

“These are unprecedented times, and I never thought I’d encourage people to stay away from the Lake District.

"However, our footpaths often go through the homes of farmers and their families, our hotels and attractions are closing and our rescue services must be available to support this public health crisis.

"Right now, we need to do all we can to limit the spread of the coronavirus and this means people staying at home, protecting the NHS and saving hundreds of Cumbrian lives.

“We will continue to work with the police, local councils and other partners to look after our staff and volunteers and everyone who calls the Lake District home.

"We look forward to a time when we will, once again, return to some sense of normality and welcome visitors back to this special place.”