Think Twice before you visit SW countryside or beaches urge LRF leaders

Think Twice campaign image - Protect our rural communities

Posted on: 14 May 2020

Issued on behalf of the Devon and Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Resilience Forum

With the slight relaxation of lockdown, the South West is warning would-be tourists, second home owners and visitors to the region to ‘think twice’ about coming to the region.

Despite new guidance, a wealth of organisations from health and tourism, local councils, the police and other members of the Local Resilience Forum (LRF) are keen to reinforce the message to ‘come back later’ to the South West and avoid overwhelming the local hospitals and health service.

Local councils may be opening up some recycling centres, but many of the region’s car parks, toilets and tourist hot spots remain closed. Many residents have taken to social media to express their concern about visitors bringing the virus, crowds gathering at popular tourist locations and beaches and the lack of facilities open for them if they choose to try and travel here.

Dartmoor National Park Authority Chief Executive Dr Kevin Bishop said:

“I’d like express my deepest gratitude and thanks to everyone for their positive action throughout the last seven weeks of lockdown to limit the spread of Covid 19.

“Dartmoor is a living, working landscape, with small isolated rural communities and farmers who are busy with lambing and calving; it is also a very different place to what you’re used to visiting. Many tourism businesses remain closed as do pubs, cafes, restaurants and public facilities. We are working hard to prepare for the easing of lockdown restrictions, but we will always put safety at the heart of what we do; this remains our top priority.

“We all need to keep doing our bit to control the spread of Covid-19 and every single action you take will make a difference.”

Cllr Judy Pearce, as Chair of the Devon Districts and Leader of South Hams District Council, said:

“The Government has said that people can now travel, and we know that many people will want to come to Devon to get some fresh air after such a long time in their homes. But it is important to realise that many of the public facilities you may expect to find remain closed. All camping and caravan sites are closed, so if you do come for a day trip, you must return home at the end of the day.

“Overnight stays, coming here for a holiday or to a second home is not acceptable under the guidance. It risks bringing infection into small, coastal and rural communities, many of which are vulnerable and have significant numbers of people self isolating. We do not want to overwhelm our limited resources, and we do not have sufficient capacity to manage an influx of infection. We’ll still be here for you when it’s holiday time for everyone – so please don’t risk our progress by coming here before we’re ready to welcome you back. “

National Farmers Union (NFU) South West regional director Melanie Squires said:

“During these difficult times, farmers are working hard to provide food for us all, so we would ask anyone using public rights of way to please maintain social distancing of at least two meters from other people, to follow the countryside code, keep dogs under control and pick up any mess, which can be a health hazard for farm animals. People using common land where there are no footpaths – for instance moorland – should also make sure they stick to the rules.

“We all recognise the benefits of getting out and enjoying the countryside which our farmers look after and maintain, especially at a time when people need to take extra care to maintain their physical and mental health, but it’s vital we are all sensible and remember the guidelines that are there to protect us all.”

And the same applies to local residents – if in doubt, don’t travel, according to the LRF.

Devon County Council Leader John Hart says:

“We know it’s been a challenging time for everyone, but we’d still urge restraint. Think twice about the impact on your neighbours in rural and coastal communities, think twice about the risks, and only travel for your recreation if you know it’s safe to do so, you can park sensibly and maintain social distancing.”

Organisations backing the ‘think twice’ and ‘come back later’ include:

  • Cornwall Council
  • Devon County Council
  • Torbay Council
  • Plymouth City Council
  • Torridge District Council
  • South Hams District Council
  • West Devon Borough Council
  • Mid Devon District Council
  • East Devon District Council
  • North Devon Council
  • Teignbridge Council
  • Exeter City Council
  • Isles of Scilly Council
  • Devon and Cornwall Police
  • Office of the Police & Crime Commissioner
  • SW Ambulance Service
  • Devon and Somerset Fire Service
  • Royal Navy
  • Dartmoor National Park
  • Exmoor National Park
  • South West Water
  • SW Coast Path
  • National Farmers’ Union
  • Coastguard
  • Public Health England
  • NHS – CCG groups
  • Hospital Trusts

The Local Resilience Forum (LRF) is a body set up to deal with emergencies – from floods to major incidents, including pandemics. The LRF connects directly with Government to manage public information and logistics in emergency situations.

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