Lockdown rules: Call for clearer guidance amid concerns over second-home owners
Government guidelines on when people can leave their homes during the coronavirus lockdown should be clarified, a council leader has said.
But North Norfolk District Council leader Sarah Butikofer said whenever possible, people should be discouraged rather than prosecuted for breaking the rules, lest we turn into a “vigilante society”.
It comes amid ongoing reports of second home-owners using north Norfolk as a retreat during the lockdown, rather than staying at their primary residences.
Mrs Butikofer said: “It would be better if people went back. I would strongly discourage anyone from coming here at the current time.
“There has clearly been a huge improvement, but currently some people are interpreting the regulations the way they want to interpret them.
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“I am hearing reports pretty much on a daily basis of people concerned about individuals but it’s really important that we don’t turn into a vigilante society.
“The guidance needs to be more defined to help people understand it, and so it leaves less to interpretation.”
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The government’s official guidance states that people should only be making essential trips, which does not include “visits to second homes, camp sites, caravan parks or similar, whether for isolation purposes or holidays.
“People must remain in their primary residence.
“Not taking these steps puts additional pressure on communities and services that are already at risk.”
A resident of Cley, who did not wish to be named, said second home owners should be compelled to return to their primary homes.
The resident said: “Our community is not set up for a large influx of permanent people. Those coming here could be carrying the virus, however unwittingly, and they shouldn’t be here.
“Often their argument is that they got here before the lockdown began and they don’t want to engage any further.”
Duncan Baker, North Norfolk MP, has also pleaded with people to avoid unessential visits to the area. He highlighted in an open letter that the region had a large proportion of elderly people, and emergency services and health care would be unable to cope with extra pressure.
Mr Baker said: “We are in an medical and health crisis and it is not what I ever thought I would have to say - but turning away visitors is paramount at this time.”
Norfolk Police received more than 350 calls from members of the public reporting people ignoring the coronavirus lockdown guidelines over the weekend.