HOLIDAYMAKERS have flooded a posh coastal town dubbed Chelsea-on-Sea – raising fears staycation hotspots could be put in local lockdown.
Thousands of tourists and second home owners flocked back to Salcombe from the moment the green light was given by the government to travel at the beginning of July.
But with less foreign holidays taking place, locals and business owners say the town, often known as the playground of rich Londoners, is heaving and busier than ever before.
And a series of striking images show how the streets have gone from a ghost town to a bustling area where social distancing is extremely difficult.
They include scenes on the narrow shopping streets and the picturesque harbour which are now packed with sun-seekers.
The town council say the huge influx has also led to an increase in anit-social behaviour.
And the town's mayor Nikki Turnton told the BBC in an interview last week that tourists seem to 'think they are in a bubble' and that social distancing is being ignored by a 'minority who don't think it counts because they are on holiday'.
She added: "It's like August bank holiday weekend every day, everybody is exhausted and overwhelmed. The businesses need the customers but we would just like a bit of respect back for the town that they claim to love."
The spike in numbers has now raised fears of a "local lockdown" similar to the one experienced in Leicester.
Roger Lidstone, who works at Bowers Wines and Spirits, in Salcombe, said: "Things have picked up a lot since the beginning of July.
"It has been busier than usual in July, which is not surprising as it is the first month since lockdown.
"People want to get away. It is a difficult balancing act as Salcombe as a town needs the tourists, but it has caused problems, especially in the evenings with people drinking too much.
"Social distancing in the streets is tricky and I don't think it has been observed thoroughly.
"Without the tourists we wouldn't survive though. It was extremely quiet but now it has gone totally the other way.
"They came back as soon as the lockdown was relaxed. We have a lot of second home owners who hadn't been able to get to them, so they all came down.
"You can not blame them, but who knows if it will lead to a local lockdown. We have had very few cases in Devon compared to the rest of the UK, but with so many people around now, it could happen.
"Whatever happens, we will act accordingly."
Anita Tildesley, who works for Salcombe Trading Company, said: "It's much busier now and with a lot less people going abroad it seems a lot more people are visiting Devon.
"I am happy to have some normality and be back open for business. I think if there has to be a local lockdown there will be. Time will tell. It is a legitimate concern that some have.
"But it is a difficult balancing act, about welcoming tourists back but ensuring things don't get any worse for those who live here."
Salcombe town councillors say the influx in visitors has caused some issues, especially with people drinking.
Cllr Caroline Bricknell – "It's extremely busy, unfortunately some people are ruining it for everyone else.
"All holiday makers get tarred with the same brush which isn't fair, some of the people who come here are great but what the others are doing is causing bad feelings in the town with local people.
"There have been problems, we were in our boat the other day and there were about 15 people in another boat and they were throwing bottles in the water and playing loud music.
"It's those that are ruining it unfortunately for our lovely holiday makers.
"It seems to be more problematic this year, I think because they can't go to Spain or Ibiza or anything else.
"This week would have been regatta week and that's a huge event in Salcombe, that would have made us up to about 25k people but it's cancelled, and will be even busier in town because people book from year to year.
"It's hard to get a booking for regatta week, people will come down to stay in the places they booked – they've been coming for years, it's a big thing in Salcombe.
"We'll have them and everyone else unfortunately. It's just something we have to sort out."
Nikki Turnton, Salcombe town mayor, added: "It does seem busier and it is causing problems, we're dealing with stuff so I can't comment."
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