Even farmers are having a hard time self-isolating in the UK as thousands of people head to the countryside to avoid the coronavirus outbreak, says Tom Martin.

The move came after UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a three-week lockdown to fight the spread of Covid-19, The Country's UK correspondent told Jamie Mackay.

"We've had a weekend of what has been dubbed 'Covidiots' who have travelled to all the beauty spots of the UK because they're supposedly on restricted movement.

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"Snowdownia which is an enormous national park in Wales has had its busiest day ever and people are just flocking in huge numbers to these beauty spots to self-isolate with ten thousand other people."


Panic-buying was still an issue in the UK despite the fact farmers produced "about 60 per cent of the food that we require" and were "very close to our trading neighbours," said Martin.

Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website

"Certain items have been sold off the shelves pretty quickly, but we can produce the food that we need and we can trade in the rest of it that we don't need. For example we grow any bananas here in the UK but we can trade that in."

Meanwhile, Martin said UK farmers' status had been elevated during the pandemic and was pleased to hear New Zealand had listed agriculture as an essential industry.

"It's nice to be called a key worker. Not long ago in the UK we were being described as low-skilled workers [so] it's nice to have that kind of appreciation."

Drying out was the most important focus for farmers at the moment, after the wettest autumn and winter "in living memory" said Martin.

"On our land we haven't got any winter crops sown at all. We've had to put the seeds back in the shed and buy spring-sown seed. But we've started today and the oats are in the ground and tomorrow we start with sowing our spring barley."

Martin said it was still possible to get on with farming and self-isolate at the same time, despite the recent influx of rural visitors.


"It's a great time to be self-isolating in a tractor cab with it's 20th century carbon filter which keeps everything out - so that's fantastic."