North Wales council leaders urge tourists to “stay away over Easter holidays”
The leaders of north Wales’ six local authorities have come together to urge tourists to stay away from the region over the Easter holidays.
On what would have been the start of the two-week school holiday, visitors would have been expected to flock to the usual hotspots ahead of next week’s bank holiday weekend.
But, hoping to avoid a repeat of much-maligned scenes as cars streamed into Snowdonia just a day after the Prime Minister announced a partial shutdown, the leaders of north Wales’ six councils have sent out a public decree urging visitors to stay away until the threat of covid-19 is deemed to have reduced.
Describing coronavirus as presenting “unprecedented challenges” for the health board, social services, councils, emergency services and “every level of society”, the joint statement was clear in its message, which was also endorsed by the Snowdonia National Park.
“Our attractions are closed and residents are doing an excellent job in observing the social distancing and stay at home messages and we encourage potential visitors to follow this advice too,” it read, noting that all six councils backed the call to only make essential journeys.
“We’ll still be here when all this is over and our tourist and cultural sites and national park will be more than happy to give you all a fantastic Welsh welcome when everything returns to normal.”
Cllr Dyfrig Siencyn, the leader of Gwynedd Council and chair of the North Wales Economic Ambition Board, added: “Our advice to anyone who is even considering visiting north Wales over Easter is not to do so.
“The regulations from our Governments are clear that we should only leave home for essential shopping, medical needs and exercise and that only essential travel should be undertaken. Visiting a second home is not essential travel.”
In a separate message, Anglesey’s MP urged second home owners to stay at their main residences, acknowledging there had been “tensions” with reports of some locals pleading directly with holiday owners to leave the island.
“Local supermarkets and pharmacies are also experiencing supply issues, and we have a duty to ensure those who don’t have the ability to go elsewhere, particularly the elderly and vulnerable, can get access to the vital supplies they require,” said Virginia Crosbie MP.
“Local health resources are effectively planned by health trusts based on those who reside there permanently and they just cannot cope with large numbers of additional patients should they become ill.”
Superintendent Richie Green, of North Wales Police, added that teams would continue to patrol the region and border areas to establish the purpose of people’s journeys.
“Teams are out and about and our officers will continue to engage with people, establish their individual circumstances and will continue to explain the risks and warn of the consequences of failing to comply with the guidance,” he said.
“We continue to ask people to consider whether their journey is essential. We all have a shared responsibility to protect the NHS, please use your common sense and help us together to save lives.”
Acknowledging that asking people not to visit the region was “unbelievable”, the chair of the North Wales Tourism Forum stressed the need to comply with regulations.
“We are living in a period of national emergency,” said Michael Bewick.
“I’m sure that I can speak on behalf of the whole sector when I thank people for staying away, for staying at their main home and by saying that we look forward to welcoming you back to North Wales – in the future.”
By Gareth Williams – BBC Local Democracy Reporter (more here on the LDR scheme)
Spotted something? Got a story? Send a Facebook Message | A direct message on Twitter | Email News@Wrexham.com