WEST Dorset MP Chris Loder has told visitors to the area they are blatantly disregarding the advice of the Chief Medical Officer and Prime Minister, and has asked them to “wake up” and to stay at home.
The MP’s message comes after crowds were gathering on the beach at Lyme Regis and at West Bay and at campsites over the weekend, putting themselves and others at risk and raising concerns that social distancing measures were not being taken seriously enough.
Mr Loder said: “We have a massive community movement going on here to help those in need and it is totally ignorant of visitors during this pandemic to not listen to the government’s advice, thus making this important work more difficult and putting our community at increased risk.
“While there may not be many cases so far in Dorset, the community here is of a higher-than-average age and therefore much more vulnerable. I know it goes against the grain, but we must temporarily close the door to tourists until this pandemic has passed; and that means visitors need to listen to the advice, just as we do.”
The West Dorset MP says we must maximise local resources and minimise community risk and tourism only goes to aid a potentially deadly wave of coronavirus.
Already growing rapidly in other parts of the UK, coronavirus is making its way from London on to the west, with the Hampshire County Council area now having the highest number of cases of any local authority area in the country, with 138 cases reported on Saturday.
Mr Loder added: “I really do need to get the message through – holidays are not essential in the current climate; however, it seems visitors do not yet understand that. Potentially bringing the virus and sharing it here with others is not something we’re geared up to cope with.”
Considerable numbers of people have raised concerns on social media this weekend from West Dorset’s popular tourist towns, such as Lyme Regis and Bridport and from neighbouring campsites who are concerned that visitors continue to flock in to the area after this weekend.
With an aging demographic, the South West is set to be one of the most vulnerable to coronavirus and residents are worried.
Mr Loder continued: “We look forward to welcoming visitors back with open arms when we are through this current crisis, when our rolling countryside, Jurassic Coast and bustling market towns will give you a holiday to remember; but for now we ask you, please, to stay at home.”
Watch MP Chris Loder’s video below, appealing for holidaymakers to stay at home: