Second home owners return to coastal towns amid Coronavirus isolation

David Beavan on the pier in Southwold. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

David Beavan on the pier in Southwold. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

A coastal town has welcomed back a host of second home owners seeking refuge from the Coronavirus outbreak.

In Southwold, 60pc of properties are second homes, with the town proving busier than usual in recent days as home owners return to the Suffolk coast.

Councillor David Beavan, who represents Southwold on East Suffolk Council, said visitors to the town were “always welcome.”

He said: “They are clearing out the shops, but that is a pretty good thing for our businesses.

“Some people are panic buying and that isn’t helping, and we are trying to get things rationed by asking local shops to keep back some essentials like toilet rolls so they don’t all disappear, but people are quite entitled to buy things.

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“The real worry is for the health service. They cannot cope in the summer months anyway when all the tourists are here, so they are going to be up against it. If we suddenly get a lot of people who don’t self-isolate properly, then it could cause a lot of problems, especially if they’re coming from high level areas like London.

“Of course, visitors and home owners are welcome all year, but we need to ask them to self-isolate properly and be responsible.”

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Letting agents So Southwold, who offer holiday cottages in the town, acknowledged the virus was causing “uncertainty and anxiety” for visitors in a statement.

A spokesperson said: “We are happy to speak to customers regarding their holiday or property, however, the Coronavirus situation means we are currently experiencign extremely high call and live chat volumes so we ask you to please bear with us during this time.

“There are no government travel restrictions in place at the moment and, as such, our normal terms and conditions apply, meaning that if you choose to cancel, a refund will not be offered.”

A high percentage of second homes are also located in and around Burnham Market, north Norfolk’s so-called ‘Chelsea on Sea’.

Borough councillor Samantha Sandell said the village was quiet but she expected families to start coming up to their properties over the weekend now schools had shut.

The situation is similar in Wells, with harbour master Robert Smith describing the town as “quieter than Christmas Day,” but said shops in the town were busy.

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