Commissioner Alison Hernandez says celebrities have an opportunity to influence the nation in a hugely positive way by not travelling to the region while the entire country is in Tier 5 restrictions.
She is urging them, as well as the wider public, not to travel to Devon and Cornwall and risk spreading this new, highly contagious variant of coronavirus.
It comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a nationwide lockdown last night with tougher restrictions on travel throughout the UK.
In Devon and Cornwall, there have previously been reports of people travelling to the area to visit second homes. One recent high-profile case saw police officers turn away five people from Tier 4 areas on the Isles of Scilly, the only UK area to remain in Tier 1.
Commissioner Alison Hernandez said: “We know Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly are absolutely beautiful and it’s totally understandable that people would want to spend time here – our thriving tourism industry is evidence of that.
“However, at a time when stopping the spread of this terrible virus is more important than ever, I must urge people not to make unnecessary journeys to the region.
“This new strain of Covid-19 is spreading much faster and we must do everything we can to protect our residents and the NHS.
“I would particularly like to appeal to celebrities and high-profile social media stars. By not conducting unnecessary trips to the region you will be setting a fantastic example to the wider public and, in doing so, encouraging more people to stick to the rules.
“I would urge you to lead by example and together we will come through this.
“There will, of course, come a time when Devon and Cornwall can welcome back visitors with open arms, and while that time isn’t now, I would urge you all to #ComeBackLater.”
People fleeing domestic abuse are among the people still permitted to travel and Commissioner Hernandez says this remains a vital right.
She said: “We will continue to help and protect those who need to get away from abusive situations and those people are obviously welcome in Devon and Cornwall.
“We commission a wide range of domestic abuse services that are still available around the clock to anyone who needs them. Please contact our Victim Care Unit (VCU) on 01392 475900 or visit the website here.”
Domestic Abuse help
If anyone is experiencing domestic abuse, support is available through any of the following:
- Plymouth Service – 0800 458 2558 sanctuary-supported-living.com
- Cornwall Service – 0300 777 4777 or firstlight.org.uk
- Devon Service – 0345 155 1074 or splitz.org
- Torbay Service – 0800 916 1474 sanctuary-supported-living.com
- National Domestic Abuse Helpline – 0808 2000 247
- Victim Support 24/7 – call 0808 1689 111 or live chat at victimsupport.org.uk
- Police Victim Care Unit - 01392 476900
The rules on travel during lockdown (from Gov.uk)
You must not leave your home unless you have a reasonable excuse (for example, for work or education purposes). If you need to travel you should stay local – meaning avoiding travelling outside of your village, town or the part of a city where you live – and look to reduce the number of journeys you make overall. The list of reasons you can leave your home and area include, but are not limited to:
- work, where you cannot reasonably work from home
- accessing education and for caring responsibilities
- visiting those in your support bubble – or your childcare bubble for childcare
- visiting hospital, GP and other medical appointments or visits where you have had an accident or are concerned about your health
- buying goods or services that you need, but this should be within your local area wherever possible
- outdoor exercise. This should be done locally wherever possible, but you can travel a short distance within your area to do so if necessary (for example, to access an open space)
- attending the care and exercise of an animal, or veterinary services
If you need to travel, walk or cycle where possible, and plan ahead and avoid busy times and routes on public transport. This will allow you to practice social distancing while you travel.
Avoid car sharing with anyone from outside your household or your support bubble. See the guidance on car sharing.
If you need to use public transport, you should follow the safer travel guidance.
You can only travel internationally – or within the UK – where you first have a legally permitted reason to leave home. In addition, you should consider the public health advice in the country you are visiting.
If you do need to travel overseas (and are legally permitted to do so, for example, because it is for work), even if you are returning to a place you’ve visited before, you should look at the rules in place at your destination and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) travel advice.
UK residents currently abroad do not need to return home immediately. However, you should check with your airline or travel operator on arrangements for returning.
Foreign nationals are subject to the ‘Stay at Home’ regulations. You should not travel abroad unless it is permitted. This means you must not go on holiday.
If you are visiting the UK, you may return home. You should check whether there are any restrictions in place at your destination.
Staying away from home overnight
You cannot leave your home or the place where you are living for holidays or overnight stays unless you have a reasonable excuse for doing so. This means that holidays in the UK and abroad are not allowed.
This includes staying in a second home or caravan, if that is not your primary residence. This also includes staying with anyone who you don’t live with unless they’re in your support bubble.
You are allowed to stay overnight away from your home if you:
- are visiting your support bubble
- are unable to return to your main residence
- need accommodation while moving house
- need accommodation to attend a funeral or related commemorative event
- require accommodation for work purposes or to provide voluntary services
- are a child requiring accommodation for school or care
- are homeless, seeking asylum, a vulnerable person seeking refuge, or if escaping harm (including domestic abuse)
- are an elite athlete or their support staff or parent, if the athlete is under 18 and it is necessary to be outside of the home for training or competition
If you are already on holiday, you should return to your home as soon as practical.
Guest accommodation providers such as hotels, B&Bs and caravan parks may remain open for the specific reasons set out in law, including where guests are unable to return to their main residence, use that guest accommodation as their main residence, need accommodation while moving house, are self-isolating as required by law, or would otherwise be made homeless as a result of the accommodation closing. A full list of reasons can be found in the guidance on closing certain businesses and venues in England.
Accommodation providers are also encouraged to work cooperatively with local authorities to provide accommodation to vulnerable groups, including the homeless.