Posted: Thu 23rd Apr 2020

Flintshire GP amongst group of senior clinicians calling for second home use to be illegal during pandemic

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Thursday, Apr 23rd, 2020

Senior doctors want the Welsh Government to outlaw all second home use until the coronavirus pandemic has subsided.

The open letter has been signed by 15 clinicians from across Wales including North East Flintshire Cluster Lead Dr Angharad Fletcher.

It is urging the First Minister to make holiday home use illegal and outlines the danger of non-essential travel  “in relation to the current public health emergency”.

Mark Drakeford has already hinted that regulations on people travelling to Welsh second homes could be tightened, with an announcement expected by the weekend.

All non-essential travel, including to second homes, is already illegal under the existing coronavirus guidelines.

But according to the open letter, there are concerns that the existing rules contained within The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Wales) Regulations 2020 are “insufficient” and need bolstering.
According to the senior GP’s, covering authorities from Anglesey to Wrexham, Bridgend and Ceredigion, the Welsh Government should:

Make second home use illegal until the risk posed by Covid-19 has abated, even when lockdown restrictions begin to ease in other areas of Wales and the UK, in order to prevent a “second peak”.

Prolong lockdown measures in rural tourist hotspot areas of Wales, specifically targeting non-essential travel into these areas.

Empower police to enforce the above, with the power to compel those breaching these restrictions without reasonable excuse to return to their primary residence.

The letter adds: “Tourism and holiday home use facilitate non-essential movement into rural areas, increasing the population and thus placing additional pressures on local health and emergency services,” states the open letter, warning that north and west Wales could see a “second peak” unless such measures are followed.

“This could happen at the very worst of times – when staff resilience will be at rock-bottom, after weeks and months of pressure, and when global supplies of medical and personal protective equipment have been depleted.

“We appreciate the economic value of tourism, but this cannot be at the cost of the health of our rural population.

“We hope that the Welsh Government will show the value of devolution by being prepared to act in a swift, innovative, agile and decisive manner to safeguard the people of Wales.

“Where necessary this must diverge from Westminster to meet our nation’s unique needs and challenges. Let history show that the Government of Wales acted when it mattered the most.”

Arfon AM, Sian Gwenllian, has added her voice to those calling for stricter guidelines on those using second homes in Wales during the Covid-19 outbreak.

She said: “The Labour Government has said they would be guided by the science. So now they must listen to the clinicians and act quickly to protect local communities in Wales.

“While the vast majority of people have taken a sensible approach, staying in the primary residences, for weeks we have been calling for tougher measures to stop the few irresponsible individuals who have ignored the rules travelling.

“It is a shame that the Labour Welsh Government has taken so long to react that senior doctors now feel it necessary to go public in order for them to be listened to.

“We are asking our front line NHS heroes to work night and day, putting their lives on the line to fight this virus. Mark Drakeford and Vaughan Gething must now listen to them and act quickly to keep them and our constituents safe.”

The Welsh Government has been asked to comment.

Gareth Williams – Local Democracy Reporter (more here).

Feature Image: © Hawlfraint y Goron 

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