Coronavirus: MPs call for restrictions on those travelling to second homes in Wales

Abersoch, which is popular with second home owners. Picture by Ken Doerr (CC BY 2.0)

MPs have written to the UK Health Secretary asking him to place travel restrictions on people fleeing the rest of the UK to self-isolate in rural Wales.

They are concerned that if the people fall ill, or bring the coronavirus with them, it will put further pressure on the already over-stretched Welsh NHS.

NHS Wales has a lower number of critical care beds for the size of the population than the rest of the UK. Wales also has a higher population of over 60-yearolds than the UK average.

Wales reported its third death from coronavirus today, at the Princess of Wales Hospital in Bridgend.

“I am writing to express my concern about reports of a substantial increase in the population of rural areas as people seek to escape the coronavirus,” Dwyfor-Meirionydd MP Liz Saville Roberts writes in the letter.

“Such a population churn poses a risk in Wales, whose health services are under great pressure already. Wales has around five intensive care beds per 100,000 people, as opposed to the UK average of 6.6 beds per 100,000.”

The letter has also been signed by Ben Lake, MP of Ceredigion, Jonathan Edwards, MP of Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, and Hywel Williams, MP of Arfon.

 

‘Retired’

Earlier this week Dr Eilir Hughes, a GP in north Wales, said he was “extremely concerned” that there had been a high influx of tourists and second home owners who had arrived in rural areas “with the intention of staying here for the time being”.

“There is evidence that a significant amount of people who own holiday homes and static caravans have decided to travel down under the impression they’d be safe here,” he said.

“We must also consider the age of those travelling into the area. They are often retired meaning they are likely to be of an age which puts them at a greater risk of COVID-19. It is likely they have also increased the viral load within our community.

“We have already been approached by second home owners demanding services within our practices. Indeed, some are here to self-isolate but are seen out and about in cafés and restaurants.

“As a group of practices serving the area, we would urge visitors and second home owners to stay put at their primary residence. We are not sufficiently resourced to deal with this extra demand during what these unprecedented circumstances.”

Last week a senior intensive care consultant has warned Wales is “uniquely at risk” if there is a surge of very sick people with coronavirus.

Dr Jack Parry-Jones said Wales had fewer critical beds than the rest of the UK, and the UK has fewer than many countries in Europe.

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Crwt o'r WladErnie The SmallholderMr parryRhosdduHiraeth Recent comment authors
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Jayne Mills
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Jayne Mills

The issue is the shortage of beds and facilities and although it is more acute in Wales, it is an issue all over the world. Those with power and authority should put their efforts in trying to sort that out rather than blaming people who reside here either full-time or part-time, most of whom are trying to stay safe and well, and many of whom contribute to the local economy and to community support measures.

Plain citizen
Guest
Plain citizen

Wales receives more health funding per capita than England so I don’t understand why Welsh NHS resources are stretched especially under the careful management for what seems like donkeys years of the Cardiff Labour elite. The second home owners have been paying council tax in Wales for what is likely relatively light usage of local resources so the money has been coming in. Complaining they are spending money in cafes etc when no one else is keeping Welsh businesses afloat is perverse.

Peter Meazey
Member
Peter Meazey

Join the discussion…In France, where I live, it has been totally out of the question to move anywhere since Tuesday. No ifs, no buts. You cannot step outside your front gate without a damn good reason (work, shopping, medical). People are accepting that this is necessary. All shops are closed except food and chemist’s. The idea of people travelling hundreds of miles to deliver this plague and then try to justify this as “tourism”… words fail me.

K. K
Guest
K. K

Like the council houses they buy in Pwllheli which are then demolished to build their footballers mansions?

Let me see. A reduction in housing for locals. A two tier property market. An unwillingness to integrate and an insistence on everyone bending to their will?

Yes that council tax really makes up for it doesn’t it. Not content with sucking the life out of the local economy we’re expected to nurse them all now too.

K. K
Guest
K. K

And lest I say this isn’t specifically directed at English people per se but more the rabble who think it’s OK to have holiday homes. Cornwall, the West Country and even London get smashed but nothing ever gets done for fear of upsetting their precious sense of entitlement. Don’t worry about the people who can’t afford to live where they were born so long as I’m alright Jack.

By the way, economies run for 12 months of the year and not 12 weeks. Why anyone should feel grateful for breadcrumbing I don’t know.

Jayne Mills
Guest
Jayne Mills

I’m not necessarily disagreeing with you about holiday home being an issue,. However, the development of the holiday home phenomenon has happened not only because of the actions of the homeowners, but also because of the actions of the people or bodies who sold the homes.

K. K
Guest
K. K

Very true but something needs to happen. I meet a lovely lady who moved to Harlech from Manchester in the late 1990s not so long back and she said that when she moved there with her husband she settled into a nice community and made many friends. Since that time however her husband has passed away and the street she lives on has only two permanent residents left as the remainder of the street has now become holiday homes. Aside from the fact that being socially isolated and suffering from mental health issues as a result (she now has poor… Read more »

Chris
Guest
Chris

Who gives permission for these mansions? Your local planning dept so, perhaps you need to have a chat with them rather than blaming those further afield?

K. K
Guest
K. K

I dislike planners immensely Chris because I find most of them don’t follow best practice and pass anything. However, I will blame people from further afield too because the financial imbalance between Gwynedd and London for example is absurd and it means that they can build their lovely vanity projects without recourse of the impact they have locally. It’s no different to what happened in Sandbanks in Dorset which has not only locked people out of the property market but also fuels a sense of entitlement amongst the better off who think they can act exactly as they wish. That… Read more »

Jonesy
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Jonesy

Unfortunately they make themselves exempt from community tax by declaring their houses as businesses. So they do not contribute. Secondly this IS NOT THE TIME to be moving around the UK spreading disease. Everybody shld be home in their primary residences as on the Continent. Is Selfishness a British o’r English disease? Look at the way people behave in supermarket s? If those selfish people had any morals they would allow their homes to be commandeered by the authorities to provide accommodation and places of quarantine for essential workers and others. Your second homes have killed most villages around the… Read more »

Elizabeth Kalynka
Guest
Elizabeth Kalynka

It’s not about spending money , it’s about People trying to protect themselves by going into isolation this means, remaining in doors not not sitting in groups drinking coffee in cafe stop being idiots!
There is only so much Doctors can do, we have to learn to look after ourselves .
The concern is for holiday home visitors safety please try and understand, go home where your known close to your family and friend who can help and support you if you become unwell.

Crwt o'r Wlad
Guest
Crwt o'r Wlad

Wales does NOT “receive more health funding per capita than England”. It has to spend more per capita on health than England which is entirely different. One reason is that we have more older people per capita, many of whom it must be said are incomers who have contributed nothing to Wales but retire here and expect to be supported as if they had contributed. In any event, funding from the Inglish government to Wales is (a) not based on Wales’ needs (it’s a consequential from England’s funding) and (b) is unhypothecated.

j humphrys
Guest
j humphrys

Nordic countries are banning people from going to summer cottages, in order to protect local services.
Wales, do the same.

Ernie The Smallholder
Guest
Ernie The Smallholder

I fully agree!
If only the Welsh government could do the same as those Nordic countries in this aspect.
We cannot continue with this one-sided relationship with England.

Dafyd
Guest
Dafyd

They should restrict second homes full stop. The damage to local economy and culture is well known.

Kerry Davies
Guest
Kerry Davies

Travel restrictions are in place all over Europe. It is going to happen here, why not now? If they move home then charge them full council tax rather than the 50% reduction. As a carer I get a 25% discount so this might be envy but I don’t think so.

Oh and Wales does not “get” more funding per patient, they “get” less from Westminster but need to spend more on health for many reasons so they do. It is called giving a damn.

Llinos Hughes
Guest
Llinos Hughes

And on those travelling to static caravans, travelling in camper vans,towing caravans and camping in campsites in Wales?And buying all the food in the local shops then heading back home & leaving nothing left for the locals to buy ?also carrying the virus ? from area to area, holiday makers should stay in their own homes, restrictions are needed in Wales ??????? ASAP please stop ? this from happening ?

Crwt o'r Wlad
Guest
Crwt o'r Wlad

These people should be given what Caio used to advocate: The Order of the A40 – pour encourager les autres

Crwt o'r Wlad
Guest
Crwt o'r Wlad

These people should be given what Caio used to advocate: The Order of the A40 – pour encourages les autres

Simon Gruffydd
Guest
Simon Gruffydd

Well I consider myself a Welsh nationalist, but find myself at odds with most of the comments here. Can’t blame people for wanting an escape to Wales for a saner mental space. I don’t think it’ll make much difference in the larger picture. I don’t think we will have a large spike in sickness or mortality this year. New virus or no new virus. Until proved different I think we should just carry on as normal with dignity.

Crwt o'r Wlad
Guest
Crwt o'r Wlad

So “normal” is letting foreigners take over our country while bringing their virus with them?

Elizabeth Kalynka
Guest
Elizabeth Kalynka

Are you not hearing what is happening in Northan Italy Simon Gruffydd ?
One of the main issues is we already have a high population of older people, with added numbers arriving in rural areas there will not be sufficient medical care to look after people if or rather when they get ill.

Jonathan Gammond
Guest
Jonathan Gammond

People should not be moving about but it is understandable why they are. Most people in a time of crisis wish to locate themselves in the best possible place or at the least a better place. We have seen it happening across and into Europe on a huge scale in recent years. However as these politicians are now highlighting; it can have serious consequences.

Hogyn y Gogledd
Guest
Hogyn y Gogledd

Worth noting that the situation in Italy was probably brought about by people fleeing Lombardy before the lockdown there and taking the virus with them.

Also, that there is no such thing as a “second” home.

Chris
Guest
Chris

As long as these people self isolate correctly (cafes, pubs should be closed) then surely their custom will keep the local shops afloat, isn’t this a good thing?

Jonesy
Guest
Jonesy

ARE YOU FOR REAL. , consumerism is dead mate. they will be using up our resources paid by us for our people. They can sling their hooks back to Cardiff, Brum or London and sit it out there.

Stay home
Guest
Stay home

Who would they turn for help in isolation should they get the virus? They can’t call their neighbour as most of them haven’t a clue who lives next door in their holiday homes. Snowdon and Penyfan was heaving over the weekend… tourists at Pembrokeshire too. Tenby carry on as normal apparently. Locals will pay the price.

Walter Hunt
Guest
Walter Hunt

1.The Government should requisition empty properties for self isolation of key workers who don’t live alone to reduce their risk of infection.

2. Hybrid virulence (?). If there’s any possibility of this, all unnecessary movement should be stopped. COVID-19-flighters may bring together viruses that has evolved down different transmission pathways in separate geographical areas.

Keith Parry
Guest
Keith Parry

Drakeford should close the border to all non essential travel.

oakseyboy
Guest
oakseyboy

There is no greater barrier to independence than the crap written by ‘nationalists’ on sites like this.

Hiraeth
Guest
Hiraeth

Second homes have always been a contentious issue. The slow eradication of the community, culture, language etc. The 10% of “second home owners” witness daily like we all do how poor a large amount of society are, homelessness and we as humans sit back and have allowed it to happen. Love and cherish one home and one community and pack it in with this ‘I want’ greed mentality. Like a previous writer on this forum quite rightly said: ‘There is no such thing as a second home’. There is no place like home and in this terrible, terrible situation care,… Read more »

Rhosddu
Guest
Rhosddu

The Highlands of Scotland have had the same problem, with a pretty vocal response from the Scottish Government, but, as in Cymru, they can do very little to curtail it. Most of the culprits are from the Lowlands, but the risks to the local population are obviously as great as in rural Wales. There ought to be a law…

Mr parry
Guest
Mr parry

2nd home owners are already paying 150% rates, so fine we won’t come for 3 months so how about a reduction on the rates, I thought the extra rates were to provide facilities, as the council’s were moaning about visitors not spending in local shops, come on you can’t have it both ways!