Tourists have been urged not to visit Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly as the area now has the highest Covid-19 case rates in England.
A total of 4,430 new infections were recorded in the area in the seven days up to 20 August, Public Health England (PHE) figures show, which is the equivalent of 769.7 cases per 100,000 people.
The rates have more than doubled in a week, with case rates at just 384.0 per 100,000 in the previous seven days.
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Tourists urged not to visit
The Cornish tourist board has urged people not to visit the area unless they have pre-booked their holidays and test themselves for Covid-19 before, during and after their time in the county.
Chief executive of Visit Cornwall Malcolm Bell said visitors should aim to “treble their efforts as much as possible” to follow the hands, face, space guidance and try to remain outdoors where the risk of transmission is lower.
Mr Bell said: “We are asking people not to come unless they have booked ahead and request they take a lateral flow test before, during and after (their) stay so that (people) can be safe and help us to manage the current spike.
“There is concern and most local residents will be happier in a week or so, when the peak season is over and an older demographic visits as there are too many occurrences of overcrowding in honey pots.
“We are asking visitors to look at visiting other parts of Cornwall.
“We have over 300 beaches and lovely parts that can cope with visitors.”
Case rates surging in South West
The top five local authority areas in England with the highest Covid-19 case rates at the moment are all located in the South West.
While Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly tops the list, Sedgemoor in Somerset is not far behind with a rate of 724.2 per 100,000 people.
This is followed by West Devon with a rate of 680.5, Teignbridge in Devon with a rate of 659.8 and Torbay, also in Devon, with a rate of 651.9.
The high rates come after health officials confirmed on Monday (23 August) that they were investigating 4,700 coronavirus cases which are suspected to be linked to the Boardmasters music and surf festival, which was held almost two weeks ago in Newquay.
While these cases are spread across the country, around 800 are living in Cornwall, a council official confirmed.
Mayor of Newquay Louis Gardner said he has been speaking to other businesses this week and they believe the recent surge in cases is down to a number of different issues.
Mr Gardener explained: “We’re seeing a spike in Cornwall because we’ve got the highest number of visitors we’ve ever had.
“Our accommodation is at 100 per cent capacity, our hospitality venues are full, there’s no social distance in place, but I think those factors all added in all together are having an effect. It’s a perfect storm.”
A spokesperson for Boardmasters said that the festival required all ticket holders aged 11 and over to demonstrate their Covid-19 stats before entering via the NHS Covid Pass app.
If attendees could not show proof of a negative lateral flow test taken within 24 hours of arrival, proof of vaccination with both doses - with the second received at least 14 days before the event - or proof of natural immunity from a PCR test, they would not be allowed to enter. The PCR test is only valid if it has been at least 10 days and up to 180 days after receiving a positive result.
They added that more than 450 people tested positive and left the festival early or did not go in.
A spokesperson said: “No event is able to eliminate risk entirely and the latest Test and Trace data includes reported infections among the 76,000 people who visited the festival or related activities at Fistral Beach, in Newquay and the wider area during the week of Boardmasters.
“We will continue to work with our public health partners to understand the extent to which attendance at the festival has contributed to the figures.”
This article originally appeared on our sister site, NationalWorld.