A NATIONAL newspaper's suggestion that people flock to the Blackdown Hills this weekend risks provoking a second wave of coronavirus, it is claimed.

The Telegraph has recommended sightseers drive down to Somerset to enjoy the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The newspaper says people are expected to drive into the countryside following the relaxation of some Covid-19 restrictions.

It adds: "Eschew the popular National Parks and tourist traps, where high visitor numbers could result in angry locals.

"Instead, visit one of England’s lesser-known Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB)."

It refers to the Blackdowns as the "Cinderella of the West Country" and mentions its "postcard-pretty hedges and winding lanes", wildlife and churches.

But the invitation to visit has not been welcomed in this area.

Cllr Simon Nicholls, who represents Comeytrowe and Bishop's Hull on Somerset West and Taunton Council, said; "A national newspaper has encouraged the nation to visit us here in Taunton to discover our Blackdowns AONB.

"Under normal circumstances we will be celebrating and welcoming people from all over the country, but we are in the middle of a coronavirus pandemic and such an idea can totally set us back to pre-pandemic stages and possibly speed up the second wave, which a credible and responsible national paper should surely discourage.

"Our NHS staffs,including key workers and volunteers, have all worked hard to keep us safe.

"We cannot and should not risk that now, where there are still travel restrictions in places such as the Lake District urging public to stay away this weekend.

"Cornwall and the Cotswolds have both asked people to hold back in visiting their most popular sites, pointing out those shops, pubs and restaurants are yet to re-open.

"Our message to the visitors is, 'Please stay away till the lockdown is completely lifted'."