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Yorkshire visitor has booking refused by Devon holiday home owner

Written by on 22/10/2020

An accommodation owner refused a booking from a Barnsley visitor who had planned for a weekend stay.

The holiday let owner from Devon posted a message on Facebook reporting the inquiry from a visitor who lives in the South Yorkshire town, which is one of the areas about to go into a Tier 3 lockdown at the weekend under the Government’s new coronavirus alert system.

They received a call in response to a listing on Airbnb for a double room in Torbay with the caller wanting to book a weekend stay from Friday night.

When the owner asked where the caller was from and was told Barnsley, the booking was refused.

DevonLive reported that the caller then protested that the alert status did not start until after midnight on Friday, so it should be accepted.

But the owner stood by her decision before posting a warning on the Spotted Torquay Facebook page and contacting the Local Democracy Reporting Service to highlight the issue.

The ‘Very High’ alert rules which will apply in South Yorkshire include residents being told to avoid staying overnight in another part of the UK.

Torbay, along with the rest of Devon and the South West region, is in the lowest category of ‘medium’ risk – also known as tier one.

The seven-day infection rate for Covid-19 in Barnsley as 423.3 per 100,000.

The Government’s new three-tier alert system has Medium, High, and Very High categories, with increasingly tighter restrictions.

Barnsley is one of several areas of South Yorkshire due to go into Very High alert status from Saturday, including Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield.

Other areas of the country including Liverpool and Lancashire are already in the highest category and Manchester will be going into it from Friday.

In Torbay, the seven-day average on October 17 was 76 cases per 100,000, just below the regional average and less than half the England rate of 169.

People in high alert areas including London, parts of the Midlands and the North East, are still allowed to travel, and an influx of visitors to Devon is expected during half-term next week.

Watch: The rules in Tier 3 areas

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Some comments on the post on the Spotted Torquay Facebook page praised the decision to refuse the booking.

One said: “They should not be allowed to bring a killer virus to Torbay.”

Others warned that it was inevitable that people from higher risk areas would be visiting Devon.

One pointed out people needed the money from holiday lets and another said visitors should be encouraged to protect the economy.

Another commenter pointed out it was difficult for businesses to filter bookings if people did not say where they were from.

Torbay’s director of public health, Caroline Dimond, has said there are concerns about visitors from areas with a higher rate of infection, but so far Torbay has not seen a major problem from imported cases. She said it was important visitors followed the hygiene measures in place.

Dr Dimond told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Friday: “We would very much encourage people to make sure they were following all the guidance and remember even if they do come to Torbay we still have cases.

“Our prevalence is a lot lower but I think it’s important people don’t think we haven’t got a problem so following the guidance is still really, really important and people’s behaviour both in the restaurants and pubs but outside the restaurants and pubs remains incredibly important.”