Margate businesses issue ‘don’t visit’ plea after easing of coronavirus restrictions on public life

Don't visit plea (Margate photo by John Horton and Don't Visit artwork by Maddy Vian)

Prominent Margate businesses are leading a campaign to encourage visitors to stay away from the town during the coronavirus crisis.

The Don’t Visit Margate campaign was launched on the Visit Margate page, and businesses including Peter’s Fish Factory, GB Pizza Co, Cliffs, The Lifeboat, and The Reading Rooms have signed up.

“We love Margate. It’s a beautiful place, with a kind community, and we are all happiest when we can share it with visitors,” they say, “But right now, we have other things we need to do. Covid 19 is real, and here on the Isle of Thanet we have one of the highest death rates in the county. Our NHS is fragile, our local council clearly struggling, and we’re not ready for visitors.”

Margate Photo Frank Leppard

The businesses – like many scientists – believe that an increase in visitors could lead to a second wave of infections. That would hit independent shops, cafes, restaurants and guesthouses hard and mean it takes them even longer to recover.

“So – for all of our indies, for local people, and for your own health, please stay home. Don’t visit Margate.” say the group

The letter has been signed by hospitality businesses including Angela’s Cafe, Roost, The Bus Cafe, Bottega Caruso, Dory’s, and The London Tavern, and by accommodation providers The Reading Rooms and Magical Margate Townhouse

Shops like Margate Bookshop and Clayspace Studios have signed and have been supported by arts organisations like traditional signwriter S&K Signs, theatre company Tootles & Nibs, and poetry organisation Whisky & Beards.

The message is in line with a plea made by North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale. The veteran MP is urging people to stay away for the time being, saying: “I have dozens of small businesses facing huge losses and wanting desperately to open up and start earning a living again but if we take the shutters down too soon we could lose an entire season for the sake of another few weeks.”

He added: “I believe that the “drive to wherever you want to take exercise” advice from the Government is premature and possibly sheer folly.  I want the seaside towns that I represent to be able to welcome people with open arms again – as we have always done in the past – but we need to take baby steps towards re-opening, not a leap in the dark.

“Get this wrong and we could be worse than right back when we started. Get it right and we could be back in business in time for the real summer holidays.”

However, that is not echoed by Thanet council leader Rick Everitt who said the authority does not want to issue a ‘do not visit’ message.

He said: “Thanet does not want to take that position, but even if we did, it’s unlikely people across Kent and beyond in search of respite from the lockdown would pay much attention.

“In fact, we never want to be in the position of dissuading visitors from discovering the natural beauty and charm of our slice of the coastline.


“On the contrary, we want to showcase what our beaches have to offer, especially in an era when foreign travel is likely to remain difficult for some time. As and when the situation eases, we want visitors to see coming to Thanet as an attractive option.

“Part of that, however, has to be making sure that we don’t compromise safety for residents, staff and visitors.”

If you are a Margate business and want to sign, find the Visit Margate page on Facebook.

Thanet council will reopen some public toilets this month – while isle MP urges visitors to stay away


  1. What is wrong with Rick Everrit leader of the council with his statement telling people the authority welcomes visitors atr this time when everyone is trying to safeguard and keep visitors away due to the dangers with the virus? Is he insane? he obviously doesn’t have any idea at all on how deadly it is. When everywhere else is telling people to stay away he is encouraging them here! So he can go visit the residents who contract it and tell them it was his fault when crowds come down to the seafronts. With Thanet already having one of the highest death rates from Covid-19 in the UK it is absolutely ridiculous for him to say we are open for business already. Most businesses are closed Rick in case you didn’t know so all you are attracting are trippers who don’t spend money in the town and go home leaving their rubbish scattered over the beaches and promenades. Would you like to go and clean it up after? Toilets are closed to and no lifeguards on duty, you really are a dangerous fool! Wait until the rates go down considerable before you make statements like that again.

  2. Does Rick Everitt have a brain? Even Roger Gale is talking sense.
    MacKinley is absent as usual.

  3. I think Rick Everitt has misjudged this one.
    Although the government seems to think that CV has gone away, it clearly hasn’t. Never mind “Be Alert”. “Stay Away” is the message for the time being, surely?

  4. Thoroughly agree. Lots of local authorities are saying stay away. Why with Kent and Thanet especially having high numbers of people with covid 19 are we actively trying to encourage tourists. As someone who lives in Broadstairs I find it depressing and frightening.

  5. I can fully understand the need for caution at the moment but am worried that we are going have an ongoing situation where many people become scared of their own shadows.

    • Agree Mike, the incessant hypnotic fear messages are going to cause unnecessary trauma until we regain some sense of balance and normality, and appreciate the huge benefits of being outside in our great open spaces. Particularly children need to be thought about on this front. Normalising of masks in non crowded areas such as the underground is also very questionable and causes its own health risks. Too much negativity is bad for the immune system! How many people die from alcohol and drug abuse, car accidents, obesity and bad diet etc. etc and yet they queue in their cars as KFC reopens.

      • The *only* reason that CV is under some sort of control (the “R” number is slightly below 1) is because most people most if the time are practising social distancing. If too many people get too casual about this, then “R” will get bigger than 1 again, infections and consequently deaths will rise exponentially, as they did in February and early March.
        Despite what the PM says, “Stay Home” is still the message, until like New Zealand, new infections are measured in 10s rather than 1000s.
        It’s not easy, and I do find the curtailment of my social life difficult. I’m sure that there will be lots of consequences to lockdown, both in terms of mental wellbeing and economically. But at least there will be people around to address these problems.

        • if the R number isn’t much below 1, then it’s much too soon for the government to tell people it’s okay to drive around the countryas far as the borders with Wales and Scotland) in their cars. And how does it square that, even without Covid 19, with its alleged desire to cut carbon emissions?

  6. Why come to a place where theres no public toilets open anywhere , 200 plus people on Broadstairs beach earlier , some using their (closed) beach huts too !
    I did notice adults and children dissapearing behind beach huts , i suppose if theres no trees ! What else can you do ?

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