UK (Sky News)

Cornavirus: Britain’s rural towns warn ‘don’t come here to escape COVID-19’

By March 22, 2020 No Comments
A general view of the water supply hut on Island of Foula on October 2, 2016 in Foula, Scotland

People using Britain’s countryside as an escape from coronavirus have been criticised as “irresponsible”.

The Scottish government said people with second homes and campervans have been travelling to the Highlands in search of isolation in recent days.

They issued a travel warning, describing the actions of travellers as “irresponsible behaviour”, reiterating the warning of Prime Minister Boris Johnson that people should instead stay home.

Rural economy and tourism secretary Fergus Ewing said: “I am furious at the reckless and irresponsible behaviour of some people travelling to the Highland and Islands. This has to stop now.

“Let me be crystal clear, people should not be travelling to rural and island communities, full stop. They are endangering lives. Do not travel.

“Panic buying will have a devastating impact on the livelihoods of rural shops and potentially puts unwanted pressure on NHS services in our rural communities.”

Further south, visitors and tourists have been told to stay away from beaches and other holiday areas to stop the spread of coronavirus and to avoid overwhelming health provisions in small towns.

Cumbria Police said the Lake District was among the places experiencing an “influx” of visitors and that people who do not live in the area should stay away.

“A national emergency shut-down of businesses and schools is not an excuse for a holiday,” they added in a statement.

West Wittering Beach in Chichester was closed after the number of visitors on Saturday “far exceeded” expectations.

The estate owners said they had seen “an unacceptable movement of people” into the local community.

Visit Cornwall tourist board said on Friday that anyone who does not live in the area should postpone their visit.

They added: “We urge anyone considering travelling to Cornwall in the coming days and weeks to think carefully about the implications of being removed from your normal social network during the coronavirus period, the risk of not being able to travel back home as planned, to be aware that supermarkets are experiencing the same pressures here as elsewhere, and consider the added pressure on public services in a rural area which this travel may cause.”

The warnings come after Mr Johnson ordered the closure of pubs, restaurants, theatres and other leisure places across the UK.

Schools across the UK have also now closed, except for children of key workers.

The moves are an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19, an illness caused by the coronavirus which has infected more than 5,000 people in the UK and more than 300,000 worldwide.

Almost 13,000 have died, including more than 230 in the UK.

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