Top Cornwall hotel to shut until March despite 'relaxed' Tier 1 restrictions

Emma Beaumont
·3-min read
Talland Bay
Talland Bay

A leading hotel in Cornwall has announced that it will remain closed until March next year, despite the county being the only place in mainland England subject to the most relaxed tier 1 coronavirus restrictions. 

Talland Bay Hotel, a 20-bedroom luxury property near Polperro in south Cornwall, will be shut throughout the winter, citing civic responsibility as the reason. 

Explaining his decision, owner Dr Kevin O’Sullivan, a retired doctor and former medical director of a vaccine-producing pharmaceutical company, said:  

“I believe the most responsible thing to do is to remain closed until the situation becomes clearer and safer. The uncertainty and unpredictability that has been cast upon this trying year has certainly contributed to our decision. But since the announcement of the new tier system there has been much soul-searching and scenario-building to try to understand the consequences of every course of action we might take.

 “Although Cornwall has been placed in tier 1, we are not yet out of the woods. In Wales, where their lockdown ended only 17 days ago, we’re seeing a renewed spike,” he said. 

Dr O’Sullivan also pointed to the fact that even tier 1 measures greatly impact hospitality businesses’ ability to function as they would like to. 

He stated: “We do not feel that, under the current circumstances, we can't offer the level of service that we want to provide or that our guests have a right to expect. Entertainment and delicacies are normally prevalent here throughout the Christmas and New Year period. Yet with all the restrictions in place, we would not be able to operate in a manner that our guests have all become so accustomed to.” 

Under tier 1 ‘medium alert’ restrictions, the ‘rule of six’ applies indoors and outdoors, while pubs and restaurants must shut at 11pm. Somewhat confusingly, visitors from tier 2 locations must follow the rules from the area they came from, meaning that overnight stays with anyone outside of your household or support bubble are not allowed. 

Which Covid tier will I be in from December 2?
Which Covid tier will I be in from December 2?

Given its new position as a haven of loosened restrictions, fears have been raised that there could be an influx of visitors to Cornwall. However, yesterday Visit Cornwall chief executive Malcolm Bell struck a relaxed tone, telling the PA news agency:

 “We coped with 180,000-200,000 extra people in August. The maximum we would talk about this time of year is 20,000, if that. So people will be welcome as long as they abide by the rules, and considering the age profiles of people visiting this time of year, they are likely to be most compliant.”  

Another Cornish hotel shutting up shop for winter is Best Western Hotel Bristol in Newquay. 

The hotel's owners said the restrictions "prevent us from hosting our usual Christmas parties and winter functions that keep this business viable". They added: "We do not consider that we will be able to attract sufficient overnight guests at an adequate average room rate to make opening worthwhile.”

Further afield, Gleneagles recently announced it will close until February, following Scotland’s move to a strict five-level system of restrictions. Some hotels never reopened after the first lockdown. London’s Nobu Hotel Shoreditch remained closed throughout summer and is only taking bookings for March onwards. 

Despite the prolonged closure, unlike some hoteliers, Talland Bay’s Dr O’Sullivan has a positive outlook. 

 “The future is far from bleak,” he concluded. “There is light at the end of the tunnel and with the promise of vaccinations by Easter, we plan to be re-opening our doors on March 1.”