Cornish council slams 'ignorant' tourists refusing to wear masks as thousands hit 'Benidorm on steroids' beaches
CORNWALL Council has slammed "ignorant" visitors for refusing to wear masks amid fears the holiday hotspot could face a local lockdown.
Thousands descended on beaches along the South coast this weekend to soak up the sun as temperatures hit highs of 37.8C.
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Cornwall Council deputy leader Adam Paynter said there are fears in the community of a rise in coronavirus cases due to the inlux of vistors.
He also hit out at "ignorant" tourists who have been reported to be refusing to wear masks as they head to the South West.
Cornwall has seen "unprecedented" numbers of visitors flocking to its beaches – leaving people too scared to leave their homes.
Locals have said they fear the rampage of tourists descending on their towns – and potentially spreading the virus – could lead to a local lockdown.
Popular seaside spots have become overwhelmed with some areas compared to "Benidorm on steroids" – with tourist bosses estimating 150,000 headed to Cornwall.
Speaking on LBC, Councillor Paynter said:"'I've heard two different incidents where people have been overheard saying: 'Well, I'm not going to wear a mask. I came down here to get away from all of that'.
"I think that's pretty ignorant thinking that coronavirus doesn't exist down here."
David Hall, 55, who runs surf shop Wind & Sea Surfing Centre in St Ives, said the number of people out on the streets is "unmanageable".
He said: "We need to avoid a local lockdown, and I don't feel like the council have done enough."
Ian Goodman, of Perranporth, Cornwall, added: "We are going to be in trouble soon, Perranporth is heaving.
"Roads are all blocked and no-one cares. I am talking tourists here."
Local resident Dave Gambrill added: "Cornwall will be locked down again very soon. We're all doomed."
Government officials have the power to impose local lockdowns in bid to stamp out any coronavirus hotspots, such as what was imposed on Leicester.
Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly has so far recorded 512 cases of coronavirus – but daily cases tripled last week as tourists flooded in.
Brits have also been pictured hitting the beaches in their thousands in Southend, Brighton and Bournemouth as fears loom over the virus.
Another Cornish resident, Richard Sedgley, said: "I would not be surprised if lockdown is reinstated here in Cornwall soon."
Kit Hartop, from Cornwall, posted on Twitter he had "never seen anything like it" and added "we simply don't have the infrastructure to cope".
Other locals pleaded with the Government to install a lockdown – with one tweeting "please put a local lockdown on Cornwall. This is our home".
Another added: "Really scary seeing that Cornwall is actually busier than usual summers but we aren't being locked down."
Julian Price, 45, who manages Ticket To Ride Surf School on Perranporth Beach, said there is "no social distancing" as tourists descend on Cornwall.
He said: "It's strange for us, because we kind of survive on people coming down for holidays – but we also want to make sure people are staying safe.
"Obviously in shops you have to wear masks now, but because we're an outdoor business, once you're outside that seems to go out the window a bit."
Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged Brits to enjoy staycations in the UK as summer holidays took a blow amid rising case count in Europe.
Cornwall relies on tourism – and the sector contributes millions of pounds to its economy every year.
Yesterday mercury hit 37.8C in London yesterday – making it the third-hottest day in the UK ever as Brits swarmed beaches along the coast.
However, with highs of 35C expected next weekend, the crowds in Cornwall don't seem to be going anywhere anytime soon.
Royden Paynter, harbour master at Mousehole, said: "Suddenly we've been hit with a stampede.
"Everybody is a bit more stressed this year – they don't move out of your way."
It comes as an extra £500,000 was given to Devon and Cornwall Police in July to help the community manage the pandemic this summer.
Malcolm Bell, CEO of Visit Cornwall, said that the tourist board is trying to strike a delicate balance between keeping people safe, and rebuilding Cornwall's social and economic prosperity.
He said: "I've been keeping an eye on lots of places, and it's certainly been busy. For locals it probably feels very busy.
"It probably seems quite daunting for locals because if you're at street level, walking along in a crowd and looking straight ahead, you can't really tell that there's social distancing going on ahead of you.
"But if you look at it from above, you can see that people actually are keeping apart."
Mr Johnson has insisted the UK is taking "every reasonable step" to prepare for a surge in virus cases – and some lockdown easing measures have been slowed down.
He said he was "squeezing the brake pedal" after the number of cases in the UK has begun to creep up – with 880 new cases on July 31, the highest since the end of June.
The PM had been keen to try get life back to normal as shops and pubs reopened while people were urged to get back to work following three months of lockdown first introduced in March.
The UK's chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance meanwhile has warned of a "risk" of a new lockdown required come the winter.
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