Plaid Cymru Leader Adam Price has written to the First Minister calling on him to close down and stop people travelling to caravan parks, second homes and tourist accommodation during the Coronavirus crisis.
Mr Price says “local political leaders, GPs, health boards and members of the public” have all raised concerns about “a large scale population shift” into generally rural areas. Concerns are increasing about pressure being on local health services, including health and social care by the influx in people.
In the letter, the Plaid Leader also highlights that Wales has particular vulnerabilities in the face of the Coronavirus crisis, including an older population, a higher proportion with underlying health conditions and a lower than average number of Intensive Care beds.
Mr Price has called for four immediate actions from the Welsh Government, and if necessary independent of the other governments across the UK, to avert a potential overloading of local services:
- Guidance for the immediate closure of caravan parks, holiday parks and other tourist accommodation with them repurposed, where possible, for frontline health staff and overflow healthcare facilities;
- Official guidance issued for people not to travel to these areas other than it being essential;
- Issuing immediate guidance against people using their second homes for the duration of the crisis, reserving the right to ban the practice in line with the position taken, for example, by the Government of Norway;
- Issuing guidance to GPs that they may refuse temporary registration requests, where they deem it unnecessary, and ask instead that people seek support at their usual GP practice.
It follows a number of interventions from Plaid Cymru representatives warning of the issue, including Westminster Leader Liz Saville Roberts MP raising it with the Prime Minister in a meeting at 10 Downing Street on Friday (20 March).
In the letter to the First Minister, Adam Price writes:
“Local political leaders, GPs, health boards and members of the public in areas of our country which are in normal times – understandably given their natural beauty and proximity to the coast – popular holiday destinations have expressed concern about a large scale population shift into these communities due to the challenges extra demand will place on local services.
Mr Price goes on to say:
“Whilst I am aware that some holiday parks have decided to play their part in reducing the potential demand on already under resourced services in these communities by closing voluntarily, I understand that this is not consistent. Another concern is that second homes which are not usually occupied at this time of year are now being utilised as people seek to retreat to the countryside and coast. In the interest of ensuring a consistent approach and controlling demand on local services in these areas, I believe that the time has now come for the Welsh Government to give direction.
“I am asking that you now take urgent steps to avoid unnecessary additional pressure on our health and social care system at this difficult time. This should clearly be done in consultation with other Governments, acting in coordination where possible, but independently if necessary. Wales already faces particular challenges in responding to COVD19 – an older population, a higher proportion with underlying health conditions and a lower than average number of Intensive Care beds which justifies swift and unilateral action.”