Police turn away visitors after ‘hundreds of vehicles’ arrive in Brecon Beacons


Police have turned visitors away from the Brecon Beacons after hundreds of vehicles arrived at the national park, despite Wales being in lockdown.

Dyfed-Powys Police said one man had driven from Hertfordshire to walk up Pen-y-Fan, while a minibus of mixed households had travelled to the area from Cheltenham, Gloucestershire.

The force issued fixed penalty notices for some breaches, though many people listened to advice and turned around to go home after seeing officers in the area, a spokesman said.

Alert Level 4 restrictions – a national lockdown – came into force across Wales on December 20.

Under the measures, travelling is only permitted with a reasonable excuse such as caring responsibilities or work.

People are allowed to exercise as often as they like, but should start and finish from home. They should only exercise alone or with a member of their household or support bubble.

Inspector Andrew Williams, from Dyfed-Powys Police's specialist operations team, said: "We are carrying out high-visibility patrols at Storey Arms and engaging with people to remind them of their responsibilities to adhere to Welsh Government lockdown restrictions.

"There are a couple of hundred vehicles in the area.

"Officers have spoken to one man who had driven from Hertfordshire to walk up Pen y Fan, while a minibus of people from mixed households had travelled from Cheltenham.

"Fixed penalty notices have and will be issued to those blatant breaches where engagement fails, but the vast majority of people are listening to advice and when they are turning up and seeing RPU vehicles at the site, they are turning around and going home – which is the objective of our high visibility patrols."

Powys County Council said Wales was "not open" for visitors to travel to from other parts of the UK, unless for essential reasons.

Cllr Graham Breeze, portfolio holder for corporate governance, engagement and regulatory services, said he was "shocked" to see large numbers of people travelling to the Brecon Beacons to "enjoy the snow".

"We all know that getting out and about is good for your mental health, but please stick to the rules and stay close to home," he said.

"We are at Alert Level 4 for a reason, because there has been a huge spike in Covid-19 cases which is affecting all parts of Wales.

"It is putting a huge strain on our health and social care services and is placing the lives of our most vulnerable residents at risk.

"Powys has some beautiful places to visit but they will still be here to enjoy after the large number of coronavirus cases has subsided, while some of your relatives and friends may not if they end up catching this deadly disease.

"We need everyone to play their part and stay home over the days and weeks ahead – however tempting it may be to head to the county's mountains, hills and lakes."