Isles of Scilly: People in England's only Tier 1 area fear arrival of 'selfish' tourists

30 December 2020, 22:02 | Updated: 31 December 2020, 00:26

The Isles of Scilly are the only part of England not to be in Tiers 3 or 4
The Isles of Scilly are the only part of England not to be in Tiers 3 or 4. Picture: Getty
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Residents of the Isles of Scilly say they are relieved to be the only area in England left in Tier 1 but worry "selfish people" will travel there to escape lockdown.

Scilly's population of just over 2,000 people will be the only people to enjoy England's most lenient coronavirus restrictions after it was announced the rest of the country will be moved into Tiers 3 and 4 at midnight on Wednesday.

Jonathan Smith, a St Martin's councillor who also runs a small organic fruit and vegetable farm, said it was a relief but "no great surprise" as the islands have not recorded a single case of Covid-19 since September.

"It's an interesting paradox that Scilly remains the only place left in Tier 1," he said.

"We are probably the place in the country for fewest options for travel, shopping and eating out in the winter months."

Although the archipelago had struggled over the summer due to a drop in tourism, Mr Smith urged those from the mainland not to visit the islands for a "New Year or winter holiday".

Read more: Millions more put into Tier 4 as hospitals see Covid patients surge

Explained: Which new areas have entered Tier 4 in England?

However, Linda Thomas, a 69-year-old librarian from St Mary's, said the news is "no time for jubilation".

She explained that some residents are anxious about their relatives on the mainland and the risk of Covid reaching the isles once again - which have a high elderly population and just one small hospital.

"Having seen our family and friends in Cornwall go from a Tier 1 to a Tier 3 in under a week because of mindless selfish people from higher tiers travelling down is very disturbing," Ms Thomas said.

"We know that some of these people were heading to the islands and I have no doubt that some made it."

Read more: UK Covid deaths jump by 981 in deadliest day since April

Read more: NHS 'not yet seen impact of Christmas mixing', Van-Tam warns

Another islander, Barbara Simpson, 78, said: "Those who freely admit they have come to Scilly to get away from the virus obviously have no idea (or don't care) of the risk they pose to us.

"The total lack of awareness and arrogance of these people is staggering."

Both women said they would not be visiting a pub or restaurant on the island for New Year's Eve despite them being open, with the rule of six and table service in place.

However, Tim Jones, who moved to St Mary's from London six years ago, said he and his partner would be wearing fancy dress to his local in Old Town.

"We are making the most of it for the children, but finish by 7pm," said the 55-year-old IT consultant.

In a statement, the Council of the Isles of Scilly urged islanders to stay local for their New Year's Eve celebrations.

"Please consider whether the risk of spreading the virus on a single night out is worth jeopardising the massive effort made to keep our community and services safe so far this year," it said.

"As we have previously advised, just because you can do something, doesn't necessarily mean you should, so please consider the Prime Minister's advice to 'see in the new year safely at home.'

"We strongly urge anyone planning to travel to the islands against this advice to reconsider, in light of what bringing the virus to the islands could mean for our community, particularly at this time of year."

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