Angry locals in Devon and Cornwall have lambasted tourists as hordes of caravans have descended upon beauty spots at the weekend.
Holidaymakers have been taking advantage of the eased lockdown restrictions on Saturday and are heading to popular destinations all over the country to try and get a break.
But locals are so enraged they have hung a sign up telling visitors to ‘f*** off.’ The crude 6ft long banner – written in black paint on a white board – was held aloft by three people, their faces hidden by it.
They stood on the bridge over the A30 at Bodmin, one of the main roads into Cornwall for holidaymakers.
Despite the cold reception from locals, businesses have welcomed the thousands of visitors heading back to the southwest, bringing with them the money they need during the normally lucrative summer trading months.
Nikki Mulliner, 38, general manager of the Shipwrights pub in Plaidstow, told The Times: ‘I was a little apprehensive but its been lovely to have so many people stop and think about what they are doing because you don’t expect that in a pub.
‘People have been enjoying sitting at a table and having their drinks bought to them.’
The crude 6ft long banner – written in black paint on a white board – was held aloft by three people, their faces hidden by it
Travellers were urged to avoid peak times, while police asked caravan owners to check their vehicles before setting off to prevent hold-ups. Above, a traffic jam on the M5 where the motorway meets the A30 on Saturday
Queues of cars and caravans waiting to get a holiday break after coronavirus travel restrictions were lifted on Saturday
Hundreds of caravans parked up at Taunton Dean services on Saturday in Somerset
The M5 in Exeter, which was swamped with camper vans and caravans heading to the coast on Saturday morning as tourists getaway as hotels, restaurants and pubs re-open with people being able to stay overnight or longer in England
A chef who did not want to be named at Rick Stein’s The Seafood Restaurant said that locals were happy to have visitors come back but were concerned about a spike in coronavirus cases.
They said: ‘The attitude of people coming down is very relaxed. They are not wearing masks and just wander around a bit as if there isn’t a care in the world. We all want the trade to start up again but nobody seems to be distancing.’
Cornwall’s tourism chief has slammed the ‘offensive and unforgivable’ sign hung over the A30 on Saturday.
Malcolm Bell, chief executive of Visit Cornwall, said outsiders are welcome and the region, which relies heavily on tourism, desperately needs their money.
In one incident today police are investigating reports that a group of teenagers shouted racist abuse after coming to Cornwall on holiday, as reported by CornwallLive.
The group was heard using racist language in a car park in Polzeath on Saturday at around 11pm. Devon and Cornwall Police has issued an appeal for information following reports of racist disorder.
Devon and Cornwall Police has said they dealt with more than 1,000 incidents on Super Saturday.
Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey angered locals when he and his family moved to their second home in Cornwall during the lockdown.
Residents say Cornwall has only one major hospital and a flood of holidaymakers puts their lives at risk.
Hundreds of thousands of tourists have started arriving in Cornwall and neighbouring Devon following the relaxation of banning measures on Super Saturday.
Many residents have voiced their concerns on social media, saying it is too soon to lift the ban on holidaymakers and second home owners.
Holidaymakers were yesterday greeted by a person dressed as the grim reaper in Dawlish
There were also multiple reports of accidents on the M5 involving holiday traffic, with the Exeter-based HART ambulance team seen heading southbound towards Junction 31
A Facebook user shared a video of hundreds of cars and caravans waiting to get down to Cornwall
The M5 Exeter was swamped with camper vans and caravans heading to the coast at Junction 30 on Saturday, as tourists made their weekend getaway on what has been dubbed ‘Super Saturday’
Caravaners heading for Devon and Cornwall stop for a break at Sedgemoor Services on the M5 motorway on Saturday
Facebook user Alice Cantrell said she spotted 57 caravans along a stretch of the A30
A holidaymaker at the Taunton Deane services on Saturday with a boat in tow
But Mr Bell said the West Country resorts won’t survive without the money that outsiders spend in shops, pubs and attractions.
‘We are battling to save thousands of jobs. Let’s welcome our customers, who will share their money to keep Cornish people in jobs.
Return of the Great British Staycation: Big changes holidaymakers can expect
- Contactless check-in at hotels, bed and breakfast and camp sites.
- Campers will have to stay in their car until they are directed to their pitch.
- In all settings they will be expected to stay over a metre apart from someone else.
- Breakfast buffets and mini bars are all out for the time being.
- Visitors could be asked to bring their own toilets with them.
- Guests will also be asked to bring their own hand sanitiser and soap.
- All paperwork and phones will be removed from hotel rooms.
- Camp sites will clean their toilets six times a day.
- In hotels and bed and breakfasts deep cleans after guests have left.
- Multiple family holidays are strictly reduced to just two households.
- Guests are not allowed to have visitors to where they are staying.
‘I don’t like to see signs like the one we saw on the A30. It is being offensive to a large group of people. I find it unforgivable.’
He understood residents’ concerns but they should not assume outsiders were bring infections to the region.
‘It’s accusing people before they even arrive.’
Feelings are running just as high in Devon – tourists arriving in Dawlish yesterday afternoon were greeted by a man dressed as the Grim Reaper.
He sarcastically held aloft a ‘Welcome holidaymakers’ sign.
But, showing not all residents share his opinion, he was challenged by two men who seized the sign from him.
It is estimated that about 80,000 holidaymakers will be in Cornwall this week – which is 15% to 20% down on usual numbers for this time of year.
And tourists have been warned a sudden cough may mean they have to isolate in their room or caravan and pay for an extra 14 days’ stay.
The warning about being forced to stay for an extra fortnight – and pay for it – if you show signs of the virus is in an information pack issued to all accommodation providers.
It’s been put together by Visit Cornwall with help from public health officials and tourism businesses.
Visit Cornwall chief executive Malcolm Bell said ‘If people fall ill on holiday and can’t travel back safely using their car they will have to pay for their 14 days in isolation.
‘We have to make that clear as the business will be losing trade.’ An extra 14 days would throw the system into chaos for many accommodation providers.
They would have to tell the next people who’ve booked that room or caravan for a holiday to stay at home.
He said the information sheets would be distributed to businesses and placed in accommodation for staycationers when they arrive.
‘We are reinforcing the think, plan, book message and we talk about beaches and the idea that they have to have a plan B.
‘If they turn up and the beach is busy, be ready to go on somewhere else.
Traffic on the M25 motorway in Kent early on Saturday morning as hotels, restaurants and hotels re-open with people being able to stay overnight or longer in England as part of the next stage of the coronavirus lockdown easing
Members of the public queue in a socially distanced manner, with markers seen on the ground, to enter Alton Towers on Saturday, after the Government eased restrictions to allow some leisure and hospitality businesses to reopen
Some tourists are seen with caravans, tents and camper vans at the re-opened Freshwater Holiday Park in Dorset on Saturday
‘We also say that we want you to go TO the beach, not go ON the beach, regarding bodily functions.
‘We also have strong messages from the RNLI and coastguard about being safe on the beach and in the water. The last thing we need is additional strain on the blue light services.’
He said not all accommodation providers would be opening this weekend with many large holiday parks delaying till Monday and some hotels until later next week.
He added that this was because they were having to bring back staff from furlough and making sure they are ready for guests.
Mr Bell said that some would be running at 50 per cent occupancy in the first few days.
It was expected there could be between 75,000 and 80,000 visitors coming to Cornwall which he said was 30 per cent down on usual numbers for this time of year.
But he added that it was expected to rise in the coming weeks to 100,000.
‘It will feel a lot busier and the roads will feel busy as we haven’t had the run up that we normally have. But it won’t be as busy as normal at this time of year.
‘I have heard of people wanting to come down at midnight on Saturday but places have been sensible and said come down at the normal times.’
Cornwall Council leader Julian German ‘For some, the closed signs will remain in place – the sign of the human cost of this crisis on our communities not only in lives lost but livelihoods too.’