Wales

Coronavirus: Gwynedd tourist numbers 'causing tension'

Barmouth beach
Image caption Crowds are making social distancing difficult in seaside towns like Barmouth, say locals

Gwynedd is being overwhelmed by tourists, politicians have warned the first minister.

Areas like Abersoch and Barmouth have been particularly busy since lockdown eased.

Plaid Cymru has written to Mark Drakeford to express concern and locals say "tensions are building" as they try to maintain social distancing measures.

The Welsh Government said it was working with local authorities to ensure everyone's safety.

"We expect everyone to fully comply with the coronavirus regulations in place in Wales," a spokeswoman added.

Businesses have argued visitors are needed to recoup lockdown losses.

A letter to Mr Drakeford, signed by four politicians as well as the leader and deputy leader of Gwynedd Council, said "unprecedented numbers" of visitors were making it difficult to observe social distancing in seaside towns and beaches.

"Unfortunately, the numbers flocking here are more than can be dealt with, which leads to a situation beyond the ability of the authorities to maintain order," said the letter from Helen Mary Jones MS, which was signed by Siân Gwenllian MS, Hywel Williams MP, Liz Saville Roberts MP and council leaders Dyfrig Siencyn and Dafydd Meurig.

"There were so many people... that the social distancing rule could not be observed."

They called on Mr Drakeford to "consider what measures you can put in place to control the numbers travelling here to guard against the spread of coronavirus".

How many coronavirus cases have there been in Gwynedd?

Coronavirus case rate

Cumulative cases per 100,000

Gwynedd shown compared to Wales average
Source: Public Health Wales, 5 August
  • Gwynedd currently has the lowest infection rate for coronavirus in north Wales.
  • The county has 476.9 positive cases per 100,000 - below the Welsh average.
  • There have also been only two cases reported by Public Health Wales in the last seven days.
  • The last death reported involving coronavirus in Gwynedd by the Office for National Statistics was in the week ending 19 June.

'Us and them'

Speaking to BBC Radio Wales, Gwynedd GP Dr Eilir Hughes said: "Tensions are building and patience is start to run low now.

"It's very palpable in the community. People are finding it difficult to understand the rules."

But Ffion Jones, who owns the Pwyth Pistyll gift shop in Pwllheli, said businesses need the extra visitors after lockdown.

"It's very busy. The last days have been the busiest I've had since opening six years ago," she said.

"I think it's needed especially after the whole lockdown situation because we're not going to have an economy if it carries on."

She added it was shopkeepers' responsibility to remind both locals and visitors about social distancing rules.

"I've seen so many posts on social media about 'us and them' and I don't think that's right," she said.

"Shops, little shops especially, need business. They want to grow, they want to boost the economy, they want staff. We have to adapt to it and grow. "

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