In our previous posts on our response to the Covid-19 pandemic, we wrote about how devolution has allowed the Scottish and Welsh governments to respond flexibly in a way that the English regions, hamstrung by London dominance, cannot. The results of this have manifested themselves in a recent Somerset Live report about how the end of lockdown could lead to a massive influx of Londoners into Wessex, as homeworking becomes, to trot out that much overused phrase once again, “the new normal”.
This poses a significant public health risk to the people of Wessex, if it happens before there is a significant and sustained drop in infection rates. Wessex has had the lowest infection rate in the UK and its population does not, therefore, have the same level of recovered/immune people as the rest of the country. This makes us more susceptible to a second surge than other parts of the country. Wessex is a predominantly rural region whose population skews older than the UK average, making us less able to cope with a second wave.
Second home ownership is already a significant burden on Wessex, particularly in the westernmost parts, pricing locals out of the housing markets. Rather than encouraging more grockles into Wessex, we should be encouraging the ones who already have holiday homes here to sell them at affordable prices.
In the meantime, our message to outsiders is that while the lockdown remains in place, fulfilling the understandable need for fresh air and exercise should not involve travelling into Wessex, or clogging up our roads with your caravans. We will encourage all Wessex residents to be vigilant for people flouting the rules about congregating, coming to holiday homes etc, and to report all incidents to the police.