Holiday lettings firm apologises for 'encouraging' Covid rule breaches

Holiday lettings firm apologises for 'encouraging' Covid rule breaches

December 30, 2020

Holiday lettings firm in Cornwall apologises after it was accused of ‘encouraging’ Covid rule breaches by offering visitor ‘from Tier 4 Windsor’ a beach-side property at New Year

  • A ‘woman from Windsor’ contacted St Ives Holidays regarding a festive booking
  • Message read: ‘I’m looking to book a last minute trip away as a surprise for my husband. I understand the restrictions but we will be very careful and discreet’
  • St Ives Holidays rep responded: ‘Hopefully we can find you the perfect property’ 
  • Gavin Curnow, who posted exchange on Twitter on Dec 29 called it ‘disgusting’
  • Cornwall is in Tier 2 (moving to Tier 3 on Dec 31); Windsor, Berkshire is in Tier 4 

A holiday lettings company in Tier 2 Cornwall apologised after it was accused of ‘encouraging’ Covid rule breaches by offering to help find accommodation for a visitor ‘from Tier 4’ in the New Year.

St Ives Holidays, on the south-west coast, was branded ‘disgusting’ and ‘the reason the NHS is on its knees’ when a thread was posted on Twitter showing correspondence between the firm and a potential customer allegedly from Windsor, in Berkshire.

In the exchange – posted by Twitter user Gavin Curnow on December 29 – a woman wrote: ‘I’m looking to book a last minute trip away as a surprise for my husband. 

‘Do you have anything available in St Ives for a few days in the New Year? … We are travelling from Windsor and I understand the restrictions but we will be very careful and discreet.’ 

A ‘woman from Windsor’ is believed to have sent this message to St Ives Holidays, in Tier 2 Cornwall. The message was part of a thread posted by Twitter user Gavin Curnow on December 29. Windsor, in Berkshire, is currently in Tier 4 lockdown – meaning you cannot leave your home or the place where you are living for holidays or overnight stays unless you have a reasonable excuse

In their response to the inquiry (above), the St Ives Holiday rep did not mention anything about Tier 4 travel restrictions. The distance between Windsor and Cornwall is about 280 miles

A spokesperson for St Ives Holidays apologised on Mr Curnow’s Twitter thread, saying: ‘We would like to confirm that in line with government legislation we do not allow bookings for customers or properties located within Tier 4 areas… it is possible that the person responding to this may have missed the part of the booking enquiry which mentioned where the customer is travelling from.’ (Above, part of the company’s website)

A representative from the company replied: ‘Many thanks for getting in touch, hopefully we can find you the perfect property. I think this one might be a great option… Near the beach, in St Ives, small courtyard and super cute.’  

Under Tier 4 restrictions, Government guidelines state people must not leave their home unless they have a reasonable excuse – for example, for work or education purposes. 

The guidance also says you cannot leave your home or the place where you are living for holidays or overnight stays unless you have a reasonable excuse.

However, the St Ives Holiday rep did not mention any of this in the email thread regarding the inquiry from the Berkshire town, which is 280 miles away. 

A spokesperson for St Ives Holidays apologised on Mr Curnow’s Twitter thread, saying: ‘We would like to confirm that in line with government legislation we do not allow bookings for customers or properties located within Tier 4 areas.

‘Since our team are dealing with multiple enquiries, it is possible that the person responding to this may have missed the part of the booking enquiry which mentioned where the customer is travelling from.’ 

Mr Curnow said that an acquaintance had forwarded the conversation to him and that similar conduct was being widely reported but ‘nothing happens’

St Ives Holidays, which describes itself as a family-run business established for over 50 years, specialises in self-catering holidays – with over 200 properties on its books in the area. Above, a file image of St Ives, in Cornwall, which will move into Tier 3 at midnight on December 31

‘Nonetheless, we will remind our team members of the importance of staying vigilant to such details. Please accept our apologies for any undue concern this has caused.’

Mr Curnow told Metro.co.uk that an acquaintance had forwarded the conversation to him and that similar conduct was being widely reported but ‘nothing happens’. 

He tweeted: ‘This stuff is happening all over the place and is, in part, the reason we’re now at over 50k cases per day and the NHS is on its knees.’ 

And commenters on his thread were also keen to vent their fury.

One wrote: ‘Absolutely bang out of order. Companies like you deserve to be closed down and fined. I’m from Redruth, living in London and I had to cancel seeing my children that live in Cornwall over Christmas so [as] not [to] add to the c**p that’s going on and here you are happily making bookings.’

Another said: ‘Putting profits before lives bl**dy wrong shameful!’

It comes as Cornwall is set to move into Tier 3 (‘Very high alert’) from midnight on December 31. 

St Ives Holidays, which describes itself as a family-run business established for over 50 years, specialises in self-catering holidays – with more than 200 properties on its books in the area.  

MailOnline has contacted St Ives Holidays for comment. 

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