The UK’s new quarantine law could cause harm to Cornwall, the county’s tourism leader has said.
Since 8 June, almost all arrivals at UK airports, ferry ports and international rail terminals have been required to self-isolate at home for two weeks.
The measure, combined with the Foreign Office advice against all but essential travel, has led to the cancellation of millions of overseas holidays.
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The effect could be to increase pressure on popular locations in the UK.
Tim Dwelly, the Cornwall county councillor responsible for tourism, said: “The government’s quarantine proposal for travel abroad will inevitably, we fear, make it even less likely that people will go, say, to Spain or wherever, because of the quarantine on the way back.
“That might increase numbers here. We just don’t know.”
Mr Dwelly, who is portfolio holder for Culture, Economy and Planning, said that in a typical year the average population of Cornwall increases by around 50 per cent in July and August.
“If we have the same number of visitors that we usually have, I have the unfortunate pleasure as a cabinet member to have seen the NHS predictions of what that might mean for Covid here. And it’s not pretty reading.
“We as a council are not in charge of who comes to Cornwall. It’s a government decision, this.
“The risk of a big influx of people could include our hospital being overrun, many people dying.”
The government says it will review the quarantine measures on 29 June. The prospect of “air bridges” or “travel corridors” – reciprocal no-quarantine deals – has been widely leaked, with discussions taking place with a number of key destinations.
But a Department for Transport spokesperson said: “International travel corridors remain an option under consideration by the UK government, not established policy.
“Conversations take place regularly with governments around the world on a whole range of issues and we will not be providing any further details at this stage.”
Mr Dwelly also warned that a second wave of coronavirus in Cornwall could send many businesses “over the edge”.
He rejected newspaper stories that the county was shunning tourists, saying: “We want you to come, we really want you to come.
“But we have to balance that with our concerns about businesses as well as people’s health and people literally dying.”
At the Downing Street briefing, Gavin Williamson, the education secretary, said: “As someone who grew up in Scarborough my personal view view is that everyone, if they have the opportunity can have a great benefit and great advantage of visiting some beautiful seaside resorts right around the UK.
“Frankly, you can’t get better than visiting places right across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and I hope people will take up this opportunity during the summer.”
The government intends to restart tourism in England on 4 July.
Mr Dwelly responded: “We want the return of visitors to be done in a cautious, safe and planned way.
“I really can’t say to you that switching from on 3 July from arresting people and sending them away in their camper van to wherever they came from, into a sudden free-for-all of hundreds of thousands of people coming down is cautious, well-planned and as safe as it could be.”
Meanwhile the first minister for Wales has finally revealed that day tourism will begin on 6 July – with some overnight stays allowed from 13 July.
Mark Drakeford said: “I know the wider tourism industry is keen to reopen and to salvage some of this summer’s season.
“I am therefore signalling owners of self-contained accommodation should use the next three weeks to prepare to re-open, working with their local communities.”
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