With much of the world on lockdown due to the spread of COVID-19, the last week has seen many city dwellers realise that they may be restricted to one place for a relatively prolonged period of time.
Rural areas from the U.K. to the U.S. have reported a dramatic increase in arrivals looking to self-isolate around nature.
However, the message from many is clear: we are closed to guests.
Just last weekend, the Snowdonia National Park in Wales experienced their busiest day in history. Other villages in Wales have been erecting signs that tell tourists to return home due to COVID-19 travel and isolation restrictions imposed by the government.
A spokesperson for Snowdonia National Park said: “Specific guidance is needed on what ‘necessary travel’ actually entails. We also call on all visitor and holiday owners to heed government advice and avoid all but essential travel, and to stay at home to stay safe.”
With people seemingly trying to escape to rural areas in the U.K., the government’s message has remained clear and firm: to stay at home unless strictly necessary to leave.
Derbyshire police have gone a step further and actually dyed the well-know Buxton “Blue Lagoon” the color black, to deter tourists from visiting.
Luxury properties in the countryside around the world have seen higher demand for the Easter period with city-dwellers moving to rural retreats during lockdowns.
In the Hamptons bookings for family homes have been reported to have increased ten-fold in the last two weeks, mostly driven by residents fleeing New York City.
With the Easter holidays approaching, demand for rural retreats has seemingly been one area of the travel market that has fared relatively well with lockdowns in place. One of the greatest testaments to globalization in 2020 is the fact that supply chains have remained robust and open despite the wider situation. Even with many people temporarily isolating in rural areas, there seems little concern about delivery and availability of essential items including groceries.
The message from governments, however, has remained clear: stay at home. With towns in the U.K. and the U.S. pushing back against new visitors, the same message is echoed even down in Australia.
The seaside town of Robe which lays close to the South Australian state border has also encouraged people not to visit during lockdowns. The town’s mayor noted an increase in “older travelers” that are stretching the resources of a destination that has just one doctor and one clinic.
In Scotland, East Lothian has also reported that their seaside town is becoming an “isolation hotspot.” The rural setting is just 30 minutes drive from the city of Edinburgh and locals have reported a similar influx of visitors that are “waiting it out.”
Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, addressed these concerns directly in a statement. She urged people to practise social distancing and said: “It may well be an understandable human instinct to think we can outrun a virus – but the fact is we can’t. What we do is risk taking it to the places we go. And in our remote and rural communities that means extra pressure on essential services and on health services that are already more distant from people.”