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220416 | 'Keep your masks on' visitors told | As tourists head West for Easter, health chiefs issue Covid warning

‘Keep your masks on’ visitors told

As tourists head West for Easter, health chiefs issue Covid warning

PUBLIC health experts in Cornwall yesterday urged visitors to wear face masks and keep their distance in crowded places, as warm Easter weather saw crowds flock to the Westcountry.

In a Facebook post, Cornwall Council called on holidaymakers and locals out and about to “do their bit” to stop the spread of coronavirus. Despite the relaxation of all Covid restrictions for the first Easter holiday since 2019, council health chiefs said cases remained high.

People should “wash their hands, wear a face covering where you can and keep your distance in crowded places this Easter,” they said.

Officials also called on those who felt unwell to stay at home.

The warning looked unlikely to dampen enthusiasm for a bumper Easter in the Westcountry, however.

Devon and Cornwall are expected to be among the most popular destinations in the country over the fourday weekend.

Some people criticised the warning, as Covid cases in Cornwall alone dropped 41% in seven days.

Cornwall tops the list of seaside destinations welcoming visitors this weekend, with Devon in third place, after Blackpool.

The survey, by hotel chain Travelodge, estimated the average visitor to the South West would spend £322 over the four-day break.

TRAVEL chaos was not as bad as initially feared yesterday, despite large traffic jams in some areas of the country, as temperatures hit 20C (68F) in the early afternoon.

An estimated 4.62 million journeys were predicted to be made across the UK, with a further 22.48 million across the bank holiday weekend in what could be the busiest in years, according to the RAC.

In the South West, holiday businesses are braced for an influx of visitors, with some expected to make a last-minute decision to head west thanks to the good weather.

Delays were reported yesterday morning heading to the Westcountry with jams reported on the M5 and M4 motorways near Bristol.

Rail passengers heading from London to Plymouth and Cornwall also reported packed carriageways, with some passengers forced to stand from Paddington until Tiverton Parkway.

In the South East, large traffic jams were present on the M20 in Dover as P&O Dover-Calais services remained suspended, with some travellers complaining they missed their ferries after waiting for hours.

Images showed huge lines of cars stretching back for miles.

DFDS advised customers on Friday morning to arrive at least two hours before their departure time, adding it is “expecting a busy day through the Port of Dover”.

Ashley Griffiths-Beamon, 33, and his husband Damian Griffiths-Beamon, 36, who got married on Thursday and were due to travel to Belgium to celebrate their honeymoon, were left waiting for 180 minutes and missed their ferry.

Amanda Burton, 33, from Peterborough, told PA she arrived in Dover at 4am on Friday morning, but missed her 8am ferry.

Parts of the M25 near Heathrow Airport saw heavy congestion, while parts of the M6 near Greater Manchester was closed after a lorry overturned.

However, according to the RAC’s Rod Dennis: “While much of the country’s major roads appear to be running reasonably freely at the moment, Easter getaway traffic is starting to build in certain spots and that is likely to continue through the day.”

It came as temperatures hit 20.2C (68F) in Northolt, west London by 1pm, with the mercury expected to hit 23C (73F) in the late afternoon, making it the hottest day of the year so far.

The current highest temperature is 20.8C which was recorded in two places, St James’s Park in London on March 23, and Treknow in Cornwall on March 25.

Edmund King, AA president, said: “Hot weather, lack of trains and an increase in UK staycations means that the roads will be busier than usual this Easter, with 27.6m journeys.

“Jams are already present on the M20 due to Operation Stack and the M25 is suffering heavy congestion on the west side around Heathrow and the east near Dartford.

“Holiday traffic to the South West has led to jams on the M4 and M5 near Bristol. The backbone of Britain via the M1 and M6 is also suffering from heavy traffic and crashes, with hotspots near Hemel Hempstead, Sandbach and Bamber Bridge.

“Drivers are advised to check their cars before travelling and in particular tyre pressures, oil, windscreen washer and fuel levels.”