Hastings: The seaside town named by government as having the lowest rate of Covid-19 infections

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Hastings is once again at the forefront of a battle to protect the shores of Britain. This time, it seems to be winning as the Sussex seaside resort claims one of the most resistent records against the coronavirus. Coinslot took the opportunity to speak with two industry operators with businesses in the town to discuss the lockdown, the prospects for the future and what it is that makes Hastings so resilient. Harry Symonds and Shaun Hooper explain all.

 

Hastings, the East Sussex town best known for 1066 and the Battle of Hastings, was thrust into the public spotlight when it was named by the government as having the lowest rate of Covid-19 infections in England and Wales.

In the data released by Public Health England, the town reported an infection rate of 48.5 per 100,000 people or a miniscule 0.0485 percent of the population. To provide some context to the data at the time of reporting the English rate of infection per 100,000 people was 248.5, making modest Hastings the most Covid-19 resilient town in the country with just 45 people having tested positive for the virus.

To complicate the analysis and confound the association often made between Covid-19 and poverty, some parts of Hastings suffer from high levels of social deprivation ranking as the 13th most deprived local council area out of the 317 in England. Coinslot took the opportunity to speak with two industry operators with businesses in the town to discuss the lockdown, the prospects for the future and what it is that makes Hastings so resilient

HARRY SYMONDS, COASTAL AMUSEMENTS

“I am surprised that Hastings has the lowest Coronavirus infection rate in the country. A high percentage of the populace work relatively locally so there is less social mobility, which could account for the figures or maybe the bracing sea air has helped keep the virus a bay!

The lockdown strategy, when it eventually came was right but I don’t understand why our social distancing requires 2 metres whilst Spain and France have only one metre and other countries have 1.5 metres which allows for more flexibility.

Also, I don’t think the Government should allow some regions to come out of lockdown earlier than others.

Hastings is keen to start welcoming visitors again but certainly not at the risk of increasing infection rates. The Council has closed car parks and public toilets so for the moment visitors have to stay away until the national infection rate is significantly lower and there is a proper testing, tracking and tracing regime in place.

As soon as leisure and hospitality industries open again I believe business will pick up very quickly because after weeks of lockdown people will be pleased to get out and socialise – even if it has to be at a safe distance.

Bacta’s done an excellent job keeping the industry informed and I think the government has listened to our views. Over the past few weeks people have had no alternative but to go online to shop, gamble and find entertainment, so going forward I’d like to see Bacta working with the British Retail Consortium, the British Tourist Authority and others to bring our customers back through the doors. So much more can be achieved when people work together.”

SHAUN HOOPER, REGIONAL OPERATIONS DIRECTOR, LUXURY LEISURE, TALARIUS LTD AND RAL LTD.

“It is interesting that Hastings has remained so virus free. It is a relatively isolated town and travelling to and from one of the nearest cities – London or Brighton, involves a lengthy journey by road or rail, so it’s not known as an ideal location to commute from.

Hastings does still greatly benefit from an influx of day-trippers during the summer months, but of course that has not been allowed until very recently. This lack of commuters and/or visitors may well have contributed to the low infection rate.

Whilst we are as keen as anyone to get the local economy up and running, public health has to be the priority. We operate three FEC’s and an AGC in Hastings, and are finalising our plans to enable a safe environment for our customers and staff to be in, with social distancing at the heart of those strategies. I certainly feel that there is an opportunity for businesses to operate safely and continue educating the customers about distancing requirements.

I am a Bacta committee member of both Division 1 (FEC’s), and Division 3 (AGC’s), and I am well aware of all of the hard work going on to help the industry to open as quickly and safely as possible. I know that James Miller and John White are in regular contact with the DCMS. The coastal resorts of the UK must be open for business for the school summer holidays. Not just the arcades, but the hotels, B&B’s, pubs and restaurants. If they are not, it will be catastrophic for many businesses.”


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