THE Lake District could witness a post-coronavirus lockdown 'staycation boom' - if the hopes of the national park’s chief executive Richard Leafe are realised.

The Lakes chief has voiced his optimism that once current restrictions are over there will be a shift by the general public towards greener and more active holiday plans rather than flying abroad - and giving suffering Cumbrian businesses a much needed boost.

But he added he felt the national park authority, and its partner agencies, have to keep their priorities on the lockdown with this weekend being their 'biggest test yet' before they can look long-term.

He said: “Last weekend was our biggest test and I’m pleased with the response we got from the majority of the public but this coming bank holiday will be an even bigger test. At the moment our message is don’t rush back and if you do want to come, observe and keep to the social distancing guidelines as we have a very anxious population in the national park.

“Farmers are nervous with many public footpaths going through their lands. We have a high number of vulnerable people and we are hoping that through maintaining social distancing and keeping visitor numbers down to as quiet as last weekend then we can keep the number of cases down.

“I am very grateful to the public and I would encourage people to exercise as locally to where they live as we can. Even with people last weekend we saw more activity around the edges and fringe of the park rather than in some of the usual central spots, so we feel that implies people just going to the nearest bits to where they live by the Lakes for their daily exercise.

“We are still in the midst of a global pandemic so while we are concerned about the economic impact we have to think about the health risks and keep within the guidance so we don’t risk getting a second spike.”

Mr Leafe said post-lockdown the national park’s focus will turn to trying to looking after local businesses who have been affected and getting a tourism boom, with the help of additional government funding.

He added: “I’m optimistic that we will have a staycation boom, even if it’s helped by the lockdown ending domestically before borders are fully opened again. I hope that all national parks see a boost in holiday accommodation whether it’s small groups of friends or families coming to enjoy exploring."