The Great British Staycation is on hold ‘for some time to come’: Seaside towns and tourist hotspots face more misery after lockdown as public is told to stay away… and also avoid foreign holidays
- Michael Gove says people should not travel to UK resorts ‘for some time to come’
- Tourism bosses are working on proposals to allow some attractions to open
- But concerns remain over return to tourism in UK will impact social distancing
British holidaymakers hoping to visit UK tourism hotspots such as seaside towns were warned today they will be unable to do so ‘for some time to come’.
Many workers with pre-booked annual leave who had been hoping to travel abroad this spring or summer will now be turning their sights to a holiday in Britain.
But Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove told MPs that ‘at the moment and for some time to come’ people should not travel to visit popular resorts such as Cornwall.
Pentewan beach and caravan park in Cornwall is deserted over the Easter weekend on April 13
Mr Gove also said that knowing that coronavirus spreads more easily inside than outside ‘will be an important factor’ when debating the end of lockdown measures.
Tourism bosses have been working on proposals to allow some businesses and attractions to open, but concerns remain over how this will impact social distancing.
Visit Britain has estimated the ongoing pandemic will cost the tourism industry around £15billion this year, with 22million fewer visitors to the UK.
The Foreign Office imposed a ban on all but essential international travel on March 17 but this was latere extended indefinitely – with no signs yet of when it may be lifted.
Mr Gove’s comments came after Tory MP Steve Double, for St Austell and Newquay, said: ‘Would the Secretary of State join me in thanking the Devon and Cornwall Police for their proactive approach in preventing people travelling to Cornwall for non-essential purposes including to visit their second homes and for a holiday?
Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove (pictured today) told MPs that ‘at the moment and for some time to come’ people should not travel to visit popular resorts such as Cornwall
‘One of the biggest concerns of people in Cornwall is that as we start to ease the lockdown, we will start to see an influx of people coming to Cornwall and risk another wave.
‘We are looking at the whole season being written off’, says Essex seaside B&B owner
Fay Jones, 57, who runs a small B&B in Frinton-on-Sea, Essex, has predicted the entire season would be a ‘devastating write-off’.
Her three-room hotel, The Old Surgery, is yards from the beach and normally takes bookings from across the country.
The Old Surgery in Frinton-on-Sea, Essex
But she said: ‘We are looking at the whole season being written off. It could mean finding another job.
‘This whole thing depends on how long the government pays the 80 per cent [of salaries up to £2,500-a-month] and how much they support business, as everything else has to be open for people to visit.’
She added the B&B could operate under social distancing measures by taking by taking bookings from family units ‘so everyone is from the same household’.
‘So can my right honourable friend assure me that as the Government considers lifting the restrictions, it will come with clear and enforceable travel restrictions to prevent this from happening?’
Mr Gove replied: ‘My honourable friend is right, Cornwall is beautiful, visiting it is a pleasure, but at the moment and for some time to come, don’t.’
Visit Britain has said options for restarting the tourism trade include restricting the number of people allowed through the door of theme parks, museums and gardens.
Another possibility would be to allow visitors to buy time-restricted tickets, while council patrols could police beaches, piers and proms to prevent crowding.
Campsites might open if they allow greater distances between pitches and, in theory, restaurants could set a greater gap between tables.
Some hotels are large enough to apply social distancing rules, but this will be near impossible with smaller establishments such as B&Bs.
Also today, Andrew Griffith, Conservative MP for Arundel and South Downs, called for garden centres to be reopened in the first wave of changes to the restrictions.
Mr Griffith warned that garden centres across the UK are ‘economically wilting with every day of the peak growing season that they remain closed’.
‘When the time is right, but I hope that will be soon, that the outdoor economy and garden centres, including those in West Sussex, are in the first wave of modifications as they’re important to the emerging mental health crisis, as well as – if you’ll let me put it this way – economically wilting with every day of the peak growing season that they remain closed,’ he said.
Tied up boats at Seahouses in Northumberland on April 14, which would normally be carrying visitors to the Farne Islands, as the virus continues to have an affect on the tourism industry
Mr Gove replied: ‘He also makes a valid point about garden centres. One of the things we know about this disease is that it spreads more easily inside than outside and as the Government reflects on how to lift current restrictions, that will be an important factor.’
Yesterday, Tory MPs had urged the Chancellor must support the tourism and hospitality sector to ensure businesses can survive without a summer season.
Mr Double warned that if businesses cannot open fully ahead of the peak summer season, many will lose ‘a whole year’s worth of revenue’ and be very vulnerable.
Robin Millar, MP for Aberconwy, called on the Chancellor to balance ‘stimulating our economy and the hospitality trade’ with ensuring the chances of a second wave of the pandemic are significantly reduced.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said he ‘will continue to keep a very close eye’ on the sectors as potential exit strategies from lockdown measures are considered.
Seaside shops that would otherwise be open are shut on Easter Sunday at Weston-super-Mare
Mr Double said: ‘As has already been highlighted, the tourism and hospitality sector is going to be the hardest hit through this lockdown. And as we’re unlikely to come out of lockdown very soon, it is going to need further support.
‘So can the Chancellor reassure the sector that he will consider further support for tourism and hospitality?
‘And will he particularly reflect on the seasonal nature of this sector – if we can’t reopen fully ahead of the peak summer season many businesses will effectively be losing a whole year’s worth of revenue.’
Mr Sunak replied: ‘I can assure him I will continue to keep a very close eye and as we think about exiting from these… look at the right interventions for every sector as we exit from the economic and social restrictions.’
Mr Millar said forecasts have predicted that ‘coastal communities will be hit the hardest’.
‘What measures has my right honourable friend put in place to ensure that he will reach that balance between both stimulating our economy and the hospitality trade in particular, and at the same time making sure that stimulus doesn’t come too soon and that we are hit by a second wave here in North Wales?’ he asked.
Mr Sunak replied: ‘This is why it is so vital that we get the timing for this absolutely right. We are not there yet, as the Prime Minister said.
‘We’ve made good progress and we all are concerned about the risk of a second peak which is why we must meet the five tests that the First Secretary set out a while ago so that we can restart our economy gradually but with confidence.’
From schools to social gatherings, how the lockdown could be eased
Ministers face continued questioning over the UK’s plan for lifting its coronavirus lockdown, as European countries begin to ease their own restrictions.
Italy and Spain are among those planning small steps to relax measures, but the Government has so far declined to publish an exit strategy.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said lockdown will only be eased if the country can meet five tests: falling death figures, a protected NHS, a reduced rate of infection, sufficient testing and PPE, and avoiding a second peak of the virus.
The next three-week review of the lockdown restrictions is due on May 7. Here is an overview of what has been discussed across various sectors:
Under lockdown, schools and colleges have largely been closed, except for the children of essential workers, and it is thought this could be among the first restrictions to be eased. But Education Secretary Gavin Williamson previously said the Government had ‘no plans’ to open schools over the summer period, while Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said it would be ‘inconceivable’ without some further measures in place. Head teachers have previously been advised to start making preparations on how schools could safely reopen, with the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) suggesting a staggered return of pupils, with Year 6s, Year 10s and Year 12s phased in first, if permitted.
Some of Britain’s largest housebuilders, including Persimmon, Taylor Wimpey and Redrow, have already announced plans to reopen building sites in late April or early May. Under Government guidance, construction has been permitted if in accordance with social distancing rules, but many companies halted work in response to the crisis. The Home Builders Federation said the restart is expected to be gradual, being dependent on how far supporting suppliers and services, such as building inspectors, mortgage lenders and conveyancers, can also return to work. Activity will also be limited until the Government changes advice which effectively prohibits all but exceptional house moves.
Property services provider CBRE has drawn from its experiences in Asia to issue guidance to workplaces on how offices might approach re-opening in the future. It advises against a ‘full throttle’ return to work, with social distancing measures needing to be reduced gradually and in line with public health guidance. It suggests businesses should establish internal taskforces to consider issues around access to PPE supplies, touchless technologies, temperature screening and reconfiguring work environments.
– Social gatherings
Limited social gatherings could be permitted in an easing of lockdown, but should be accompanied by extensive testing and contact tracing, one expert has suggested. Dr Joshua Moon, research fellow in sustainability research methods in the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) at the University of Sussex Business School, said the Government could adopt a ‘slow release valve’ approach to the issue. He explained a phased approach might see certain sections of the population, for example healthy middle-aged people, given more freedoms initially, but he warned this risked the most vulnerable suffering the hardships of lockdown the longest. Dr Moon said family ‘clusters’ could gradually be permitted to socialise, but could not make long journeys to do so, while most businesses remained shut. ‘The idea is that within those groups you can quite easily test, trace and isolate,’ he said, adding that it was harder to monitor for people moving around in public.
Sector representative body UKHospitality has focused its energies on getting business support extended to places like bars and restaurants. A spokesman suggested that even if venues were allowed to open with reduced capacity, businesses would still struggle financially. The All Party Parliamentary Group for Hospitality and Tourism has launched an urgent inquiry into how the sectors could reopen. This includes looking at operational challenges, reactivating supply chains, Government support and encouraging demand. A report is expected by mid-May.
Ministers are thought to be considering allowing some non-essential businesses to open, such as garden centres and car showrooms, provided social-distancing could be maintained. Lobby group the British Retail Consortium has produced guidelines on how stores could prepare for the easing of restrictions. The guidance draws on lessons learned from supermarkets in recent weeks to ensure the re-opening of non-essential firms can be done safely. Advice covers limiting entry and exit points, using floor markings to outline social distancing and keeping changing rooms closed. The guidance also suggests installing cleaning stations with hand sanitiser and disinfectant wipes at the front of stores.
It is understood Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has been working on a plan for major sports to be played behind closed doors when some social distancing rules are eased. Weekly meetings are to be held between the Government, Public Health England and medical officials from sports bodies, with the issue due to be on the table when ministers review current measures next month. Key questions that need to be tackled include testing requirements, burdens on emergency services and the possible impact on fan behaviour – such as impromptu gatherings outside grounds. Sporting bodies are understood to be keen to resume full training safely as soon as possible.
Last week, low-cost European carrier Wizz Air announced plans to resume some flights from Luton Airport on May 1. Cabin crew will be required to wear masks and gloves on all flights and will distribute sanitising wipes for passengers, while new distancing measures will also be introduced during boarding. Mr Raab has indicated that officials are looking at possible checks at air and sea ports, with passengers arriving in the UK required to quarantine for 14 days. Meanwhile, the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union warned there was ‘zero chance’ of ramping up transport services soon, amid speculation of an increase on May 11 or May 18 when a new rail timetable is due. Last week, industry sources said no dates have yet been agreed or announced.
Source: Read Full Article