Cornwall Council statement for holiday accommodation providers: 6th April 2020

Ahead of the Easter holidays Cornwall Council is calling on holiday accommodation providers, including letting agents and online booking platforms, to support the COVID-19 response by following the Government’s closure orders. The overwhelming majority of holiday accommodation providers, such as self- catering businesses, bed and breakfasts, caravan parks, hotels, campsites and holiday homes, have shut their […]

Ahead of the Easter holidays Cornwall Council is calling on holiday accommodation providers, including letting agents and online booking platforms, to support the COVID-19 response by following the Government’s closure orders.

The overwhelming majority of holiday accommodation providers, such as self- catering businesses, bed and breakfasts, caravan parks, hotels, campsites and holiday homes, have shut their doors as a result of the Government ordering all non-essential businesses to stop operating and for everyone to stay at home and avoid unessential travel.

There are a number of exemptions which allow some holiday accommodation businesses to remain open, for example to provide accommodation for key workers, NHS staff and for health and care use.

One such establishment is Carnmarth Hotel in Newquay which has been providing a place to stay for people who have been in hospital, are able to be discharged, but are not ready to go home.

However, Cornwall Council has received complaints alleging that some holiday accommodation providers are still having holiday makers in their premises and operating illegally.

Ahead of the Easter holiday the Council’s enforcement team is now writing to all holiday accommodation owners, letting agents and online booking platforms in Cornwall who are not exempt to the COVID-19 orders to ask for their cooperation in complying with the orders.

The letter, which is going out to holiday accommodation providers today (April 2), says: “As you know the Government passed legislation last week which requires certain businesses to close with immediate effect. We appreciate that you may have already acted on the Government’s directions and closed your accommodation, although there are a few exceptions which are covered in this letter. Most businesses in Cornwall have done exactly that. Indeed, we know that some businesses have been able to provide valuable support to the community by housing vulnerable people and key workers.

“Nevertheless, the Council is receiving complaints that allege that some holiday accommodation businesses are continuing to trade. This is undoubtedly a small minority, but due to the risks involved, we are taking the precaution of writing to you to seek your support in helping to control the COVID 19 outbreak in Cornwall.”

The new legislation requires any person responsible for running a business providing holiday accommodation, whether in a hotel, hostel, bed and breakfast accommodation, holiday apartment, home, cottage or bungalow, campsite, caravan park or boarding house, to cease trading during the emergency period.

The Government’s controls are expected to remain in place until the regulations are reviewed by the Secretary of State and a direction issued to end them.

In its letter to accommodation providers Cornwall Council outlines the new legal requirements and where businesses can get further advice.

It also warns that businesses can face enforcement action if they flout the orders.

Rob Nolan, Cornwall Council’s portfolio holder for environment and public protection, said: “We are calling on and trust that our holiday accommodation providers in Cornwall will do the right thing and ensure compliance with this requirement which has been introduced to protect the health of our population, NHS and other critical services at this time.

“We understand that this legislation may have serious financial impacts upon businesses so please read the guidance to understand how you can access the financial help you need.”

Malcolm Bell, Chief Executive of Visit Cornwall, said: “It’s up to all of us to play our part in fighting this virus, as well as obeying the law, and this simply means that not only should all the traditional tourism business be closed to holiday makers, but also people letting out rooms and properties on the online booking platforms that have grown rapidly over the last few years.”

Inspector Miles Topham from Devon and Cornwall Police said: “We will work closely with and support our partners in protecting the public. If people undertake non-essential travel which could include travelling to second homes then we reserve the right to take enforcement action which will be considered on a case by case basis.”

There are a number of exemptions which allow holiday accommodation businesses to remain open, including where they provide services to:

  • People who live there permanently or because their primary residence is unavailable.
  • Critical workers and non-UK residents who are unable to travel to their country of residence during this period.
  • People who are unable to move into a new home due to the current restrictions.
  • Homeless and other vulnerable people such as those who cannot safely stay in their home, through arrangements with local authorities and other public bodies.
  • Those attending a funeral.
  • Hosting of blood donation sessions.

Also, holiday accommodation can remain open for any other purpose requested by the Secretary of State or Local Authority.

A current list of exemptions can be found on the Government’s website.

The government has produced guidance on business closures for further reference. However, if you require additional advice please do not hesitate to contact the Council’s Business Support Hub at businessadvice@cornwall.gov.uk.

If you believe that holiday accommodation might not be complying with the new regulations then please contact Cornwall Council at businessadvice@cornwall.gov.uk.

For anyone seeking refunds due to a holiday booking cancellation Cornwall Council advises:

  • Check the small print on your booking – what does it say about cancellation due to Government intervention?
  • Check the small print on your travel insurance – will your booking be covered?
  • Register your concerns with your holiday provider – are they working to a timetable (ie most imminent bookings first)? What are they suggesting as a solution? But please be patient as businesses have to deal with many pressures at this current time.
  • If you paid for your holiday by credit card you may have additional protection through the credit card provider.

If you do still need further advice or information about cancelling a booking due to Covid-19 please call the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 040506 or contact Cornwall Council Trading Standards at businesscompliance@cornwall.gov.uk.

Cornwall Council will be working with Visit Cornwall when this emergency period is over to support those affected.