Rural communities and tourist destinations across the UK have warned non-residents against flocking to the amid the coronavirus outbreak.
From the Scottish Highlands to the Cornish coast, communities have been inundated both with day visitors and second-home owners fleeing outbreaks in major cities such as London.
National parks such as Snowdonia reported huge crowds on Saturday despite pleas for would-be visitors to stay at home and practice social-distancing measures, while seaside towns such as Skegness were also reportedly inundated.
This is a #pandemic not a Bank Holiday. What bit of non-essential travel means coming from across the UK, potentially with CV, to climb Snowdon; strip local shops of food; put Mountain Rescue at risk at least twice today & pressure on a limited NHS; & ignoring social distancing? pic.twitter.com/R420HM0ELS
— Claire Turner (@ClaireTTweets) March 21, 2020
Cumbria Police said on Saturday that the Lake District and other tourist attractions were experiencing an “influx” of visitors.
The force has now urged people from outside its county to keep away, saying the Lake District is “no longer conducting business as usual”, with pubs, restaurants and attractions advised to close.
“Whilst we are looking at all measures to limit the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus, I must urge people living outside the county not to visit,” Cumbria Police’s assistant chief constable Andrew Slattery said in a statement.
“A national emergency shut-down of businesses and schools is not an excuse for a holiday.”
West Wittering Beach in Chichester, south-east England, closed to the public on Saturday after the number of visitors “far exceeded” expectations, the estate owners said.
And the Visit Cornwall tourist board published a statement on Friday asking people to postpone their visits to a later date “despite the lack of clarity from government” around the situation.
The National Trust has also been forced to close all of its parks and gardens in order to slow the spread of the virus, as crowds flocked to properties despite stark warnings from the government about social-distancing.
As well as day-trippers, there has also been significant concern from some rural communities that those with second homes could flock to more isolated areas and put a strain on the local health services.
Representing a big part of rural Scotland and part of a national park, I say this in all sincerity, the Daily Mail can f*** off. Please, stay at home, our community is not your bolt hole. This is not a holiday opportunity, take it seriously. pic.twitter.com/QGexovqcAS
— Alyn Smith MP ??????????️? (@AlynSmith) March 21, 2020
Scotland’s Rural Economy and Tourism secretary Fergus Ewing released a stern statement on Saturday evening, writing that he was “furious” with the recklessness of people travelling to the Highlands and Islands.
“This has to stop now,” he wrote, adding: ‘Let me be crystal clear, people should not be travelling to rural and island communities full stop. They are endangering lives. Do not travel.”
As well as placing a strain on health services for local people, Ewing warned that visitors’ panic buying “will have a devastating impact on the livelihoods of rural shops.”
Welsh Conservative MP Stephen Crabbe, who represents a seat in rural Pembrokeshire, has also voiced his concerns, explaining that while he had long-encouraged visitors to the area, coronavirus meant that “people need to avoid travelling if possible”.
I have spent 15 years urging people to come to wonderful #Pembrokeshire on holiday. And I will carry on doing so when we are through this thing. But right now people need to avoid travelling if possible. Local Health Board extremely concerned about extra pressures on services
— Stephen Crabb (@SCrabbPembs) March 20, 2020