No evidence Tier 4 visitors have caused Covid outbreaks, council says

There’s no evidence that holidaymakers from Tier 4 have caused any local outbreaks, Cornwall Council has said.

The issue was discussed at a press conference this morning (Thursday, December 31) following the announcement that the country is in Tier 3. In less than a week Cornwall has moved from Tier 1 to Tier 2 and now Tier 3 due to the rising number of infections.

At the start of December there were around 100 confirmed cases a week, but this increased to more than 500 in the week before Christmas.

Meanwhile, CornwallLive has been reporting on visitors from higher tier areas breaking the rules by coming to Cornwall on holiday.

During today’s press conference Rachel Wigglesworth, director of public health for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, said holidaymakers have been urged to leave the county as soon as possible.

She explained: “So Tier 3 guidance is that hotel accommodation including B&Bs and other holiday accommodation should close, but there are exceptions for people who are already in some accommodation when the tiers were announced.”

She said midnight tonight isn’t a reasonable amount of time for people to leave by, so they’re being asked to make their way home as soon as they can.

She added: “I know accommodation providers will be encouraging and supporting people to do that as well.”

However, she explained only people using holiday accommodation for work purposes or urgent reasons should be there.

Meanwhile, she said there is no evidence that any local outbreaks have been caused by visitors.

She said: “We don’t have evidence that there have been outbreaks that are specifically related to our visitors, although clearly the hospitality industry have been affected.

“Across all areas of Cornwall, the virus is affecting people, that’s both tourists and non tourists, it’s not attributed to a single group, it’s something we clearly have in our community and it’s loving the fact we’re spending social time together and we will see the impact of our Christmas mixing in the weeks to come.”

Cllr Julian German, leader of Cornwall Council, said: “We had a rise in those numbers before Christmas, so we can see the evidence that mixing was happening in Cornwall in any case.

“We’ve done great work, we know all about the volunteering that’s happened and the sacrifices people have made, but now is the time to double down our efforts and really get a hold of the virus and get those numbers down.

“As Rachel said we will expect to see an increase over the next week, the next fortnight, from the mixing over Christmas, but let’s get those numbers down.”

Cornwall Council was asked how it’s policing people travelling from higher tiers to the county.

Cllr German said: “It’s fair to say people have been reporting people suspected of travelling from Tier 4 areas into Cornwall and those are being dealt with appropriately either by Cornwall Council enforcement team or the police. Some of those have resulted in action being taken.”

Sophie Hosking, from Cornwall Council, said: “The responsibility for acting against individuals is with the police. And the offence is caused by an individual coming out of Tier 4 and into another area, so that’s a police responsibility.

“Having said that, the council are working very closely with police colleagues and we’re forwarding any information sent into us to them.

“Obviously it’s better if people report it to 101 but if it comes to us we will send those concerns on to the police to follow up.

“The police to date have issued 450 fixed penalty notices in Cornwall. I know of three in the last week for non-essential travel, but then there will be more than that.

“In terms of the council’s enforcement efforts, we’re responsible for enforcing against businesses.”

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