"We’ve got to get tourism going again" – that was the defiant message from prime minister Boris Johnson in response to a question from a holiday let owner during Thursday’s government coronavirus briefing (30 April).
"We are getting enquiries daily to book our holiday let from June onwards," said Michelle in Cornwall.
"But we are worried there will be an influx of people coming away from the cities to tourism hotspots, which could bring a second wave [of coronavirus] to areas such as Cornwall – how will tourism in the UK be managed in the coming weeks?"
Responding to the question, Johnson, who was leading his first daily briefing for five weeks after himself succumbing to coronavirus, said he sympathised with everyone in the tourism industry "who has taken such a hit" – but warned the country could not risk a second wave of coronavirus.
"It’s been one of our jobs to make sure we look after businesses as far as we possibly can through our loans, support schemes and furlough scheme for workers," said Johnson. "Michelle, we’re going to make sure the UK bounces back as strongly and as fast as we can.
"But we’ve got to be sensible. I think the public has been very sensible so far in obeying the advice. It’s vital that does not fray, and we don’t see people starting to disregard what we are saying."
Johnson said the government would next week set out more details about how it proposes to "unlock" various parts of the UK economy, such as tourism in the UK.
"What you are going to get next week is really a roadmap, the dates and times of each individual measure," said Johnson. "It will be very much driven by where we are in the epidemic, what the data is saying.
"So Michelle, the short answer is, you’re dead right – we’ve got to get your business going again, we’ve got to get tourism going again, but we can’t allow such a big influx of tourists as to create a second spike or a second wave of the disease."
Johnson added the UK was now past the peak of the disease, and confirmed the infection rate – or "R" factor – was now below one meaning the spread was slowing.
However, he said it was vital the country did not undo its hard work by softening restrictions too soon.