Londoners ‘fleeing capital and heading to the Westcountry’

With Covid-19 cases on the up and the Omicron variant rapidly sweeping the UK, fears of strict Christmas rules are beginning to emerge amongst those in the capiral.

Chloe Parkman www.devonlive.com

Although tougher restrictions have not yet been implemented, the UK Government has said a further 88,376 lab-confirmed Covid-19 cases have been recorded in the UK as of 9am on Thursday, the highest daily recorded since the pandemic began.

As part of Plan B England has reintroduced the wearing of masks in most public places after the announcement last week, and on Wednesday Covid passports will be introduced in nightclubs and other venues.

And as cases continue to rise ahead of Christmas, reports suggest Londoners are leaving the capital early for Christmas, with many flocking to the Westcounty.

According to the Daily Mail, commuters have described trains leaving the capital being packed with passengers laden with suitcases, bags and presents so they are assured of seeing their families on December 25.

The Daily Mail reports: “Mr Johnson has denied that there will be any further lockdowns or an escalation of his Plan B, those leaving admitted they have a ‘horrible feeling’ he might change his mind before Christmas Day with one million cases per day of Omicron predicted by Sunday.

“One person wrote the situation felt ‘like last year, the mass exodus from London spreading Omicron far and wide’. Another said: ‘Sadly this is true. Many London folk are still leaving for the West Country where it is inherently safer. Things can only get worse’.”

And for many across Devon and Cornwall, there is the feeling that history may well repeat.

Back in May of last year residents in Salcombe said they were “extremely frightened” after a number of second homeowners travelled from all over the country with their boats to visit the town as restrictions were set to ease.

Cars including Range Rovers (also known as Chelsea tractors), appeared within Salcombe, following the Government’s announcement on Sunday (May 10), which stated a slight ease with regards to the UK lockdown.

The flocking of second homeowners came after PM Boris Johnson announced, that driving your car to work and to travel somewhere in order to undergo unlimited exercise is allowed, however, nowhere did he state that families or indeed groups of friends, are able to travel to second homes.

The ‘Grim Reaper’ was even spotted standing on the Exeter Road roundabout last year holding a “Welcome holidaymakers” sign as restrictions began to ease.

The prank was not reflective of the general mood in the region, as Devon and Cornwall welcomed visitors back with open arms on day one of a major boost to the Westcountry’s economy.

The man, who wishes to remain anonymous, said that two men from a local business challenged him and ended up confiscated his sign.

This comes after many have expressed worries that easing lockdown might be too soon. Earlier today in Cornwall, another not so very welcoming sign was held by three pranksters over the A30, near Bodmin. It read simply: “Turn around and f*ck off. Read more here.

And in Cornwall, locals were faced with a similar situation.

Back in August of 2020 holidaymakers were being urged to follow social distancing rules in a bid to prevent Cornwall from being put under local lockdown.

Adam Paynter, deputy leader of Cornwall Council, warned that if people ignored the instructions to maintain a social distance, wash hands and wear a mask where appropriate, a local lockdown could potentially jeopardise the holiday season.

He said: “I urge all visitors to Cornwall to follow guidelines such as washing hands, wearing a mask when required to and maintaining a social distance.

“We want to avoid the local lockdowns that have happened further north that have seen places shut down and we want to make sure the attractions stay open for local and visitors to enjoy and don’t want to see anything closed and the best way to achieve that is if people do all they can to follow the rules to avoid spreading the coronavirus. If they do that, they’ll remain open.”