'They make me want to jump in the sea': UK tourists flock to southwest coast but locals refuse to welcome them with open arms

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As a large population of the country decides against the risk of holidaying abroad, the southwest of England is welcoming more guests than ever – but faces the risks associated with the virus.

Based on stats alone it would appear Devon and Cornwall have gotten off lightly when it comes to coronavirus.

The South Hams was one of the first places in the UK to report a case of Covid-19, but since then there have been just over 2,000 more cases in Devon, with about 900 having been reported in Cornwall since early March.

While other picturesque parts of the country such as Cumbria suffered during lockdown with day-trippers blamed for spreading the virus, the westcountry – stung by those early cases – shut up shop quickly with a police force determined to enforce the letter of the law and angry, social-media savvy locals armed with smartphones and a passion for passive aggression ready to expose any second-home owners flouting the rules.

There are many in the southwest who would prefer it to have stayed that way, but this is a region which relies heavily on its tourism industry.

“It had got to the point where we had to open again,” says Victoria Norris, 46, who runs Tall Ships Creamery ice cream shop in Charlestown on the south Cornwall coast.

“Only time will tell if we have made the right decision. We have had a lot of holidaymakers down here and by the beginning of September we will know how lucky we have been.”

Victoria was so concerned by the spread of the virus that she shut down her business before the government made closure compulsory. She also refused to reopen until June – after her engineer fiance Scott Anstey had completely revamped her two small shops in the village to ensure they were completely Covid-safe.

She only allows one household into the shop at a time and employs a strict two-metre social distancing rule at all times.


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