Wednesday, 6 May 2020

“It is too early to be planning holiday breaks …”

My article in this week’s edition of the Cornish Guardian is as follows:

At one of last week’s governmental briefings, the Prime Minister declared that the United Kingdom is "past the peak" of the coronavirus outbreak and we are on the “downward slope.”

He also promised further information on a “roadmap out of lockdown” in the coming days though, to be fair, there was a significant element of caution in what he said. In particular, he identified five key tests that must be satisfied before the current measures could be adjusted.

But I feel there were also mixed messages coming from Mr Johnson. Questioned about tourism in Cornwall, he said that “we can't allow a big influx of tourists” which could “create a second wave of the disease," but also added “we've got to get tourism going again."

Overall, I find myself more comfortable with the language and positioning of Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. She has rightly acknowledged that progress has been made, but has pointed out that being “past the peak” does not mean we are past the point of danger. In a tweet, she wrote “progress is fragile and if we ease up it will be reversed … we need to encourage maximum compliance with current restrictions.”

At this time of ongoing lockdown, it remains my view that the UK Government needs to carry on taking a very strong position in terms of non-essential travel, especially over long distances.

The Police and other public bodies have been doing a great job in monitoring the roads, but it is disturbing to hear so many reports about people failing to respect government regulations.

It was quite unbelievable that one family thought it was acceptable to travel 265 miles from Surrey to St Ives to visit the seaside.

Public safety is the over-riding priority and it is much too early for individuals and families to be planning holidays or visits to locations such as Cornwall.

In terms of the holiday industry, some local tourism operators have made some very thoughtful contributions to the ongoing debate about the future loosening of the present constraints, while MPs have been calling for specific support for the sector which will be very badly hit by this crisis.

And yet, it is particularly worrying that some holiday park complexes may re-open prematurely. I have heard reports that a range of sites are taking bookings for late Spring and early Summer.

Shockingly, the website of one large company, with eight holiday parks in Cornwall, is claiming that they will be reopening on 15th May. This would be foolhardy, and the UK Government needs to make it clear that such actions cannot and will not be sanctioned.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Given the low incidence of the virus in Cornwall it would seem incredibly foolish to allow an influx of visitors for the forseeable future. The virus is far from vanquished and we still fear a second wave such as occurred with the Spanish Flu in 1918 and an early second wave appears to be on the card in Germany. We should do everything in our power to encourage Goernment to retain restrictions on long distance travel and on the premature opening of holiday parks, hotels and other forms of tourist attraction.