Holidaymakers visiting Cornwall have been told by tourism bosses to get a Covid test ahead of the summer dash.
Tourist and council chiefs urged people to order a pack of lateral flow tests and ensure they are negative before they head to the county.
With Covid cases rising to 40,000 a day and hundreds of thousands of people being pinged by the NHS app, Visit Cornwall warned that “the virus is still out there” and added: “We would suggest that you test yourself and your family before setting out and while you are in Cornwall.
“Be aware of the anxiety some may be feeling as they emerge from restrictions, and respect those who choose to wear masks.”
It came as an estimated 2.4 million people took to the roads on Friday for “staycations” and some 400,000 took advantage of cut-price foreign breaks and the relaxation of quarantine rules for the double-jabbed to jet off to European holiday destinations.
People holidaying in the UK were also warned by the Met Office to prepare for potential flash floods as it forecast that the week’s hot weather will give way to storms bringing double the annual rainfall to the south of England, Midlands and south Wales over the weekend.
Cornwall tourist chiefs are worried that the influx of visitors could increase the county’s Covid case rate from the current 391.9 per 100,000 people, nearly 100 below the national average. It is already being hit by 2,000 infections a week – its highest rate this year.
Tourists are being encouraged to help ease potential strain on local health services by getting a vaccine when they are able to, bringing their own medication and “calling 111 instead of turning up at a local hospital unless it is a life-threatening emergency”.
They are being advised that they should drive elsewhere if a beach is crowded or return at an earlier time the following day.
Malcolm Bell, the Visit Cornwall chief executive – who warned people to “stay away” from the county when the first lockdown eased last May 2020 – urged tourists to be “on your guard and patient”.
“We ask and hope that everyone on a day trip within Cornwall and the wider region, as well as our staying visitors, that we see this holiday season as a summer of understanding,” he said.
“We all need to understand that the virus will have a great summer of spreading infection if we allow it to by not sticking to the guidelines.”
Tour operators have reported a doubling in the number of Britons going on foreign holidays this weekend compared to last. EasyJet, one the biggest carriers into Europe, said it was up by one third on last weekend, with 135,000 passengers flying on 80 routes to green and amber destinations.
Heathrow Airport expected to handle 60,000 to 65,000 passengers this weekend, about 25 per cent of the pre-pandemic daily volumes of 245,000 in July 2019. Gatwick has forecast 255 flights daily, carrying 26,000 passengers a day, a quarter of the 950 flights pre-pandemic.
Airlines and tour companies have been trying to lure more passengers by slashing prices in the past few weeks, with Ryanair flights to Portugal down from £17 to as low as £7, and EasyJet down from £53 to £21 to the same destination.
George Eustice, the Environment Secretary, signalled on Friday that quarantine-free travel to France for the double vaccinated could be allowed after last week’s sudden crackdown forced anyone returning from the country to self-isolate for 10 days.
He said the surge in beta variant cases in France was behind the decision to no longer exempt double-jabbed travellers from quarantine on return to the UK, but numbers have halved to below five per cent of all cases.
“As those rates come down obviously the evidence will change and it can be reviewed and we’ll want to be putting countries like France back onto the amber list in the normal way,” Mr Eustice told LBC.
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