Taking a Covid test is one of the ‘right things’ tourists should do before visiting the Isle of Wight, according to the council’s chief executive.
Laid out last week by the Prime Minister, the roadmap to opening the country has caused concerns that the Island could see more infections as more tourists visit. The Isle of Wight has already been reaching top spots in searches for holiday destinations – as people look to have a summer as normal as possible in ‘staycations’ close to home.
Under the second step of the roadmap, no earlier than April 12, domestic overnight stays in household groups will be allowed and most outdoor activities will be opened.
In the third step, and no earlier than May 17, overnight stays will be open for all with international travel subject to review. It is also the stage where indoor hospitality, entertainment and attractions can open.
Speaking at a meeting of the Isle of Wight Council’s health and social care scrutiny committee, Cllr Michael Lilley said while the Island’s economy is very linked to visitors, due to the spike of cases over Christmas people are worried it will happen again.
The Isle of Wight Council’s chief executive, John Metcalfe, said being a year into the pandemic now the council has ‘very effective tools’ available to help protect the Island and its community but ‘that does not mean there is not more we can do’ and more options will be looked at.
Mr Metcalfe said there had been very good compliance from a great majority of businesses following guidelines but Covid support officers will be providing practical advice to businesses about what they can and cannot do.
He also said the council is working with tourism body, Visit Isle of Wight, to get messages to businesses and also marketing and promoting the Island while advising people to ‘do the right things’ before they visit.
Through public health powers, if an outbreak is in a particular area, Mr Metcalfe said, they are able to take action and have now built up a localised test and tracing team to contact people quicker, and ultimately prevent further spread faster.
Simon Bryant, director of public health, said easing out of lockdown and following the roadmap will need to be managed ‘really carefully’ as some forecast modelling outcomes had shown there could be an increase in cases.