CAR parks have been closed in Snowdonia in response to a rising number of people ignoring coronavirus restrictions to visit beauty spots.

Snowdonia National Park Authority (SNPA) said the decision came after the new variant of Covid is "spreading so quickly" across North Wales while people continue to visit the tourist hotspot in breach of Welsh Government rules on unnecessary travel.

Wyn Ellis Jones, SNPA chairman, said: “It is a crucial time in relation to the coronavirus pandemic and it’s our priority to protect Snowdonia’s communities.

"Because of the high volume of people seen ignoring government regulations in Snowdonia since Christmas, we have decided to take urgent measures to support the Welsh Government’s message to avoid any unnecessary travel.

"We hope that people will take personal responsibility for their actions and will voluntarily follow the current government guidelines.”

North Wales Police issued a spate of warnings and fines to motorists who had travelled to Snowdonia from across North Wales and beyond in recent weeks.

Nigel Harrison, temporary assistant chief constable, said officers are having to "reinforce common sense" as people are showing "blatant disregard" for public health warnings.

“We understand that people want to go outside to enjoy the mountains and snow, however this is a national emergency and we will continue to work with our National Park colleagues to ensure that Welsh Government restrictions around essential travel are adhered to," he said.

“The restrictions to prevent the spread of Coronavirus are there to protect us all. It is vital that everyone takes personal responsibility by staying home unless they have a valid reason not to be there.

“People should not think of ways of circumventing the law. The police should not be needed to reinforce common sense.

“We will not stand-by and allow blatant breaches of the legislation to happen across our communities. We will of course engage with the public and explain the legislation, and encourage people to take personal responsibility for their own safety and that of others.

"If, however, people continue to flout the regulations, demonstrate a blatant disregard for the health warnings and put significant strain on already stretched resources, we will take action.

“It is not acceptable to pick and choose the law you follow and the laws you don’t. We all know the law by now and know exactly what is the right thing to do. This is not a dress rehearsal, people will live and die on the actions we all choose.”

Gwynedd Council has issued new public health advice following the spread of the new Covid variant, which is said to be 70 per cent more transmissible than the original strain.

Gareth Jones, assistant head of environment, said: “Although the recent figures for Gwynedd are much lower than other areas of the country they continue to be a concern and we are very conscious that the number of cases could rise sharply.

“It is a real cause of concern that health experts are noting that the majority of cases in North Wales are of the new variant and we are encouraging residents to follow the simple guidelines to keep themselves, their loved ones and their communities safe.

"We know the new variant spreads much easier and it’s vital that we minimise contact, open windows, wear face coverings where needed, maintain social distance and wash our hands.

"It’s vital that we follow the current guidelines to avoid unnecessary travel and not to drive to some of Snowdonia’s beauty spots for the time being.

"By playing our part each and every one of us will assist in the effort to halt the spread of the virus so we can return to a normal way of life as soon as possible."