Coronavirus: Suffolk farmer urges walkers to act responsibly

A farmer in Suffolk has urged the public to respect the government’s coronavirus lockdown measures, after finding a family having a picnic on private land.

Sue Cross found the family of four sat by a lake on her farm on Wednesday (8 April) after they had strayed from the public footpath that runs nearby.

The arable farmer, who has 364ha of land near Ixworth, said she has never seen the footpath so busy, with different groups of walkers stopping to chat to each other.

See also: Poll: Should farm footpaths be closed over coronavirus?

The government has told people they must stay 2m away from others at all times when they go out, and they should be leaving the house only for very limited purposes, which include one form of exercise a day.

Mrs Cross, who runs the farm with her husband, Andrew, and daughter, Catherine, said it was frustrating to see people walking where they shouldn’t be during the lockdown.

“Please stick to the footpaths and keep your dogs on a lead. People are stopping to mingle on the footpaths because their dogs are meeting.

“I think people should stay at home and take it seriously – the more people out and about the more chance of spreading this.”

The farming family said they were having to use gloves to open and close gates leading to private areas of the farm because walkers had been climbing over them.

“We shouldn’t be having to do that. My husband has health issues and my daughter has a low immune system,” Mrs Cross added.

Unnecessary travel

Mrs Cross’s comments echo those of Phil Stocker, chief executive of the National Sheep Association, who called on the public to observe the government’s lockdown rules more closely over the Easter weekend to reduce the risk of spreading the virus to farmers.

He said: “By travelling to farms you are risking passing on this dangerous virus to a food producing farmer, and that is simply not acceptable.

“We all know the rules – and simply put, travelling somewhere a car drive away from your home to walk is not necessary. We implore the British public to obey these rules and respect other people’s homes and lives – particularly as we approach the Easter weekend.”

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