STREET marshals have been recruited to help cope with a flood of visitors to the national park’s tourism hotspots.
The marshals in high-vis are issuing reminders about social distancing and helping to disperse people from busy areas by suggesting alternatives.
Four marshals have been employed to work weekends and bank holidays between now and the end of June, with Covid restrictions in England set to end on June 21.
They will patrol busier town centres and high street retail areas, with a focus on Bowness, Windermere town centre and the Ambleside area – including Waterhead.
Elliot Higgins, general manager of outdoor clothing store The Epicentre, in Ambleside, considered the marshals to be a positive measure.
“It was busy [last year],” he said.
“From a business point of view, obviously it’s good to see it busy, but from an infrastructure and a local perspective, it’s challenging.
“The narrow streets and things, it’s quite tricky in Ambleside to manage social distancing.
“The guides are a really welcome addition.
“Last year we had such a high volume of new visitors and I think this season is going to be tenfold, and anything that can give a bit of guidance, a bit of support, especially on the local infrastructure – it’s good to have a bit of extra presence.”
A spokesman for South Lakeland District Council (SLDC), which secured funding from the government-administered Reopening High Streets Safely Fund to lay on the marshals, said: “The marshals are part of our work to support the safe reopening of our town centres as lockdown restrictions begin to ease.
“The marshals are there to provide a friendly welcoming face and remind people of the ongoing rules, particularly around mask wearing and social distancing, and making sure people are acting respectfully towards others.
“Hopefully they will provide a reassuring presence in some of our busier areas for residents, visitors and businesses.’’
The high-vis helpers will also be supporting businesses with queue management, providing information about car parking, toilets and picnic areas, and encouraging people to pick up their own litter and act responsibly.
However, they do not have enforcement powers and any serious breaches of Covid restrictions or incidents of anti-social behaviour would still need to be dealt with by the police.
The areas in which the marshals operate will be reviewed regularly and may change as towns and villages become busier.
In addition to the Covid marshals, other measures being introduced by SLDC and partners, including the national park authority, include:
- Signage erected in town centres across South Lakeland advising people about rules on social distancing, mask wearing, littering, fires and overnight stays.
- Additional temporary public toilet facilities in busy areas in Bowness.
- Increasing the frequency of litter bin emptying in tourist hotspots to up to six times daily, as well as installing additional litter bins in busy areas.
- Monitoring of parking in hotspot areas so motorists can be directed towards other available parking, which is collated on a dedicated webpage. Visit www.lakedistrict.gov.uk/visiting/car-park-status.