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A series of tongue-in-cheek posters urging visitors to steer clear of Welsh tourism hotspots has gone viral as millions of Britons are urged to stay inside to protect the NHS amid the coronavirus crisis.
With temperatures set to reach 26C in parts of the UK over the Easter weekend officials have repeatedly warned the public to stay inside in a bid to maintain social distancing measures.
The #DontVisitWalesChallenge hashtag took off late on Friday evening after social media expert Owen Williams, from South Wales, shared his alternative versions of iconic tourism posters online after being inspired by the “Visit Wales. Later,” initiative launched by the Welsh tourism board.
— Owen Williams (@OwsWills) April 10, 2020
At the time of writing, almost 3,000 people had responded or shared their own posters urging people to stay away from beauty spots across Wales.
“It was like kindling to a fire – with the weather forecast as it is and this heightened awareness around social distancing over the Easter weekend it just took off,” Williams explained.
“It’s been really, really funny seeing people’s replies, they’ve been shared by some big names and it’s just great to see other versions that people have put together themselves.”
As well as retweeting Williams’ designs, Twitter users mocking up their own posters and sharing them as part of the “challenge”.
— Jeremy Vine (@theJeremyVine) April 11, 2020
— Dai Lama (@WelshDalaiLama) April 11, 2020
— Gareth James ⧖ (@mrgarethjames) April 11, 2020
Stay at home. Save lives. Simple. pic.twitter.com/z9pCOO6CgB
— Jack Henry ???????????????? (@JHenryBucks) April 11, 2020
Williams said: “They’ve been mistaken as a genuine campaign, which of course they’re not, but it seems to have been a good way to get across what is a really serious message.”
Parts of Wales have seen high numbers of visitors since the start of lockdown, with day-trippers travelling to beauty spots such as Snowdonia National Park to enjoy the great outdoors despite guidelines urging the public to stay at home and exercise locally.
The UK-wide instruction to stay local was reiterated ahead of the Easter weekend, with ministers and senior health officials urging the public to stay inside despite soaring temperatures.
The mercury is expected to reach 26C in some parts of the country on Saturday, fuelling fears that crowds could gather in parks and on beaches in spite of social distancing warnings.
England’s chief nursing officer Ruth May said on Friday that the best way to thank NHS workers would be to remain at home, admitting it had been “personally frustrating to see people clearly not social distancing.”
She added: “The single greatest thing you can do to say thank you to our NHS and social care staff is for people to follow the advice.
“This is a long weekend. We need you to stay at home, and stay safe.”
Government ministers have also pleaded with the public to stay at home, after the UK announced its highest daily death toll (980) on Friday.
Health minister Matt Hancock said Easter would be a “test of the nation’s resolve” but added that the clear message from NHS staff battling to save desperately sick patients was “they need you to stay at home”.