Perhaps for the very first time, some of Britain’s most popular seaside towns are actively encouraging tourists not to visit.
It was a fortnight ago after warm temperatures and sunny skies that large numbers of people headed down to the beach for some Covid-19 respite. Within days, Britain got serious on lockdown measures and the picture was very different this last weekend. Coastal resorts throughout the country have effectively self-isolated from the rest of the country.
Down in Brighton, home to one of the UK’s top five free to enter attractions, the seaside resort found itself in the bizarre position of actively encouraging the public not to visit the city – for fear of further spreading Covid-19.
“We will always welcome people to Brighton but we are telling them not to visit this weekend,” said Brighton & Hove Council leader Nancy Platts. “I will place police at the main train station this weekend and they will be turned away if they don’t have a good reason to visit Brighton.”
Platts said that she had “seen for myself” how busy the beach had been on the first weekend of lockdown, and said that the crowds were testament to the fact that people “had not fully understood the concerns voiced by government.”
Platts added that a discernible attitude-shift had taken place last week however, noting a “significant change in behaviour” in favour of self-isolation. Across the country meanwhile, the story was the same. Westonsuper-Mare had taken a similar stance with its own erstwhile visitors – with the town’s tourism board Visit Westonsuper-Mare temporarily adopting a re-purposed logo which announced that the resort is “closed.”
“While our beautiful beaches and seafront might ordinarily have been the perfect location for stretching our legs and feeling some sun on our faces, given that far too many people are choosing to not follow advice on keeping safe distances and not congregating in large groups as we’ve seen in Weston lately, we must now please ask you to stop,” remarked a Visit Weston spokesperson.
“As a tourism service, we appreciate that asking people to stay away is the very opposite of our usual aims and objectives, but for the safety of visitors and residents, we have no option.