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Sun, 5 April 2020

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Government tells Brits not to visit holiday homes amid fight to contain coronavirus spread

Government tells Brits not to visit holiday homes amid fight to contain coronavirus spread

Traffic cones block the entrance to Croome in Worcestershire after the National Trust shut down all of its parks and and gardens.

3 min read

Ministers have urged the public not to visit holiday homes as the country battles to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Fresh guidance from the Government says people should “remain in their primary residence” or risk heaping pressure on already at-risk public services.

The move follows a major backlash from some remote and rural communities about an influx of visitors looking to get away from cities during the outbreak.

Boris Johnson on Sunday warned the country he was prepared to order a UK-wide lockdown unless people start following strict measures designed to slow the spread of Covid-19.

He said: "As I have said throughout this process, we will keep the implementation of these measures under constant review and, yes of course, we will bring forward further measures if we think that is necessary."

In a bid to shut down visits to holiday homes, the latest guidance from the Government - issued on Sunday night - says: “Essential travel does not include visits to second homes, camp sites, caravan parks or similar, whether for isolation purposes or holidays.

“People should remain in their primary residence. Not taking these steps puts additional pressure on communities and services that are already at risk.”

Last week Plaid Cymru’s Westminster leader Liz Savile-Roberts said she was “extremely concerned at reports of a substantial increase in the population” of parts of Wales, with holiday homes “which are usually empty at this time of year now being occupied”.

That call was echoed by GP Dr Eilir Hughes, who said he had seen an “high influx of tourists and second home owners” to Gwynedd, north-western Wales, in recent days.

He said: “We have already been approached by second home owners demanding services within our practices. Indeed, some are here to self-isolate but are seen out and about in cafes and restaurants.

“As a group of practices serving the area we would urge visitors and second home owners to stay put at their primary residence. We are not sufficiently resourced to deal with this extra demand during these unprecedented circumstances.”

Visit Wales, a Government-backed website aimed at promoting the nation, has already urged Brits to stop visiting.

“Please do not visit Wales at this time and avoid all unnecessary travel within Wales,” the site said.

“Following these guidelines will save lives.

“We look forward to welcoming you back in future; but for now, let’s all #staysafe.”

London mayor Sadiq Khan this weekend moved to shut down parks in part of the Capital as Londoners continued to flock to open spaces.

The Labour politician urged people to "stop social mixing" and warned "people will die" if the advice is not heeded.

Meanwhile the Local Government Association, which represents councils across England and Wales, pleaded with people to avoid all non-essential travel.

A spokesperson said: “We would urge anybody, particularly those in at-risk groups such as those aged 70 and over, to follow this guidance and avoid the risk of spreading the virus and adding unnecessary pressure to local health services.”

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