Many prescriptions at Devon pharmacies ‘for people out of area’

A senior Devon councillor has called for urgent action to be taken to stop visitors coming to the county after reporting that pharmacies are telling him many prescriptions are for people whose address is outside of the area.

Daniel Clark

Cllr Frank Biederman, leader of the Independent Group on Devon County Council, said that while clear messages regarding not wanting visitors to come to the region at this time have been put out, far too many people are ignoring the advice and not staying at their primary address.

Last week, councillors from some of Devon’s local authorities joined the call by Cornwall Council for people not to visit Devon and Cornwall this Easter.

But Cllr Biederman said that already in his area of the county, around Fremington in North Devon, visitors have arrived and it has led to terrible trouble for residents getting prescriptions, saying that it is partly because many prescriptions are for people whose address is outside of the area and they are staying at second homes or holiday cottages.

North Devon MP Selaine Saxby added that she is aware of reports of people coming in after dark cross country and avoiding any roadblocks on the A361.

In an open letter, Cllr Biederman said: “I believe we need to do more to STOP this now, surely given the rules these people should be sent back, once we are aware that they are here. I see a situation arising, where a local will not get a critical care bed, because a visitor ignoring the rules, has got it first.”

He has asked that at Wednesday’s Devon County Council cabinet meeting, which will be held via videolink, he can ask an urgent question about what Devon County Council are doing to stop visitors and how are they working with Partners to stop them?

Cllr Biederman added: “I know the Government, Devon County Council and North Devon Council have been putting out clear messages, regards visitors not coming to North Devon at this time but very much welcoming them in the future.

“I am disappointed, that far too many are ignoring this advice and they are also clearly ignoring the rules set out by government, to stay at their primary address.

“I am helping to co-ordinate the community effort in my ward, we have terrible trouble getting prescriptions for residents, they can’t get through on the phone, so end up ignoring advice and join the queue, to stand for a couple of hours only to discover that their prescription is not ready.

“Virtually every call I am getting, is regards prescriptions and not being able to get through to the chemist, which is causing great anxiety in the community.

“Having spoken to several staff I know that work in pharmacies, they tell me many prescriptions are for people whose address is outside of the area and they are staying at second homes, holiday cottages etc. This is putting extra burden and delay on the pharmacy & ultimately causing delay to our most vulnerable residents.

“My local shop has said the same, so many of his regular holiday home visitors have appeared, they feel it is safer to be here in Devon.

“Given that we are two weeks behind London, the above is likely to ultimately have severe consequences on our hospital.

“I believe we need to do more to STOP this now, surely given the rules these people should be sent back, once we are aware that they are here. Emergency legislation could force Pharmacies, Surgeries & Acute Hospitals to report these incidents to the Local Authority, huge fines administered and they are told to return to their own home.

“I also believe we need permanent checks on the main roads into the area, turning people around, if they are not from the area.

“I see a situation arising, where a local will not get a critical care bed, because a visitor ignoring the rules, has got it first.

“Let’s get a joined up approach to this, it’s simple you stay at your Home Address …. No excuses. I do appreciate all everyone is doing, but I believe this one issue, is going to cost lives here in North Devon and we need to get tougher on it from Central Government Down.”

Last week, councillors from some of Devon’s local authorities joined the call by Cornwall Council for people not to visit Devon and Cornwall this Easter.

All authorities in Devon recognise the importance of the tourism sector for Devon but they are urging people to stay at home, stay safe and wait until COVID-19 restrictions are lifted before paying a visit to the county.

“I could never have imagined as a tourist board leader; I would not only be assisting in the closing down of all holiday accommodation and having to make public pronouncements telling people not to come and even more recently stating don’t come.

“Neither could I have ever imagined the current situation; the word pandemic I associated with  science fiction. There has been health crisis before, Spanish flu occurred at the turn of the last century.  As a society we have become complacent plagues were in the past and were such a thing to happen again it would be dealt with and controlled.  As one of the richest countries in the world, we have been part of process to conquer threats such as SARS and Ebola.  

“In the far South-West it still sometimes doesn’t feel real.  I wake up every morning and the world seems no different; the enemy and threat cannot be seen.  Watching the news from other countries it looks like an episode from a TV Sci-fi programme. I recall my mother telling me of how it felt at the start of the second world war in the phony war period, when nothing seemed to change for a while.

“That said, I am pleased the vast majority of us are abiding by the rules and along with many others, I say a big thank you from myself and everyone else in your community.  But, to the small minority who think going for a trip out, or even worse, those who are thinking or planning to come down to Cornwall and Devon for a few days I have to shout out DO NOT COME – HOW DARE YOU PUT YOURSELF BEFORE THE  LIVES OF OTHERS.  

“This crisis has and will cost lives and will cost far more if people keep breaking the rules.  It will also have a short, medium and long term economic and social impacts that we still cannot calculate, let comprehend.  If people do not abide by the rules, the virus will spread faster and the peak will be stronger; more people will die, the economy will take longer to recover.  In our region if we all work together, we could be open again in June, possibly earlier, however the cost to the region’s economy is estimated to be around £800M.  Should tourism not be operating in the peak months the cost implications jump into billions of pounds resulting undoubtedly in business failures and job losses, not only in tourism but the supply sector, business and professional services.

“I can only re-iterate, if we all abide by the rules fewer lives may be lost, less strain placed on our amazing health and key workers and may bring an earlier date when it will be safe  to reboot the tourism economy this summer; businesses and jobs will be saved and if that is not a good enough reason, then all of us will be able to enjoy the summer in this amazing part of the world.”

Cllr Rufus Gilbert, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Economy and Skills, said: “Tourism is an important part of Devon’s economy and tourism businesses and accommodation will be suffering, just as many sectors are during this crisis. If we all take the Government advice on board, stay at home and only making essential journeys, the sooner we will get through this crisis and get Devon open for business, so that people can pay us a visit at a later date.”

Leader of South Hams District Council, Cllr Judy Pearce, added: “We really value our second home owners and the many thousands of visitors who come to see us each year. But I cannot stress strongly enough that now is not the time to visit our area. Travelling here for the Easter holiday is not ‘essential travel’.

“If you visit you will put further unnecessary pressure on the local NHS and other community support. Please listen to the Government advice, stay at home this Easter and we will see you all again soon when this is over.”

Leader of East Devon District Council, Cllr Ben Ingham, said: “We know that East Devon is a great place to visit and if we were in normal times we would welcome you with open arms. However we are not in normal times and the message is very clear – ‘Stay at home and save lives’. We won’t be thanking you if action on your part results in our residents becoming infected which could lead to deaths. Please come back when this is all over.”


Coronavirus UK death toll: why what we think we know is wrong

Every day we get one big figure for deaths occurring in the UK. Everyone jumps on this number, taking it to be the latest toll. However NHS England figures – which currently make up the bulk of UK deaths – in fact reflect the day on which the death was reported, not the actual date of death, which is usually days, sometimes weeks, before it appears in the figures.

Good explanation of how difficult it is to know what is going on in an epidemic moving so fast through the population. – Owl

Niamh McIntyre 

New figures reveal that what we think we know about the Covid-19 death toll in the UK is wrong. Here’s why.

Every day we get one big figure for deaths occurring in the UK. Everyone jumps on this number, taking it to be the latest toll. However NHS England figures – which currently make up the bulk of UK deaths – in fact reflect the day on which the death was reported, not the actual date of death, which is usually days, sometimes weeks, before it appears in the figures.

The truth is we don’t know how many deaths have taken place the previous day. In fact the headline figure is likely to under-report the number of deaths that actually happened the previous day.

The number we hear about usually counts deaths which took place at an earlier date. The difference matters because by undercounting the number of deaths we are skewing the curve.

Prof Sheila Bird, formerly of the Medical Research Council’s biostatistics unit at Cambridge University, explains: “We’re on a rising epidemic trend, and so the death counts are currently increasing, and we’re trying to track how steeply they are increasing. If today I’m getting to know about a series of deaths that occurred in the past 10 days, then what I’m getting is not a reflection of the steepness of the curve at this moment.”

On 30 March, NHS England reported 159 deaths in the 24 hours to 5pm on Sunday 29 March. However, the actual number of people who died in that 24-hour period was revised up to 401 in Thursday’s report and again to 463 on Friday as more deaths which occurred on that date were reported. And this figure could be revised up again as more deaths come to light.

“When you’re on a rising trajectory, the reporting delay is likely to mean that you underestimate the steepness [of the curve] and so we may think that we’re doing better than we are. And when we come to the downturn in the epidemic, the slowing, and there’s a decrease in deaths, we’ll be too slow to recognise the change. Hence, we risk getting it wrong in both senses,” Bird adds.

Another complicating factor is that the Department of Health and Social Care’s daily count covers deaths in hospitals, omitting those in the community. Although the ONS this week started releasing the number of deaths including community deaths in England and Wales, there is also a time lag in this data being reported.

There are other datasets we can look at. The number of confirmed cases of the virus is a useful indicator but it relies on testing, which has not been rolled out to cover a broad enough swathe of the general population to give us a sense of how many people are possibly infected.

The number of triage calls and online assessments through the NHS are also useful to give us a sense of potential infection levels – 1.9m at the time of writing in England. But these are people with Covid-19 symptoms, not those with confirmed cases of the virus.

The most solid data we have showing the trajectory of the impact of this virus are deaths. That is why it is imperative that we have timely and reliable data – and why the seriousness of the problem is growing along with the death toll.

“It’s not uncommon that this happens in a new epidemic,” Bird says. “Reporting delays are something to be managed, not to be ashamed of. You manage them down but you don’t want to do that by making people think they will be blamed for reporting late and therefore run the risk of failing to report. That’s the worst possibility.”


Britain has millions of coronavirus antibody tests, but they don’t work

None of the antibody tests ordered by the government is good enough to use, the new testing chief has admitted.

Owl believes that science is essential in finding a way out of the crisis and will succeed. But the Government needs to take care with expectation management. It wasn’t very long ago we were told we would be able to stock up on these test kits from Amazon, within weeks. 

Chris Smyth, Whitehall Editor | Dominic Kennedy, Investigations Editor | Billy Kenber, Investigations Reporter 

John Newton said that tests ordered from China were able to identify immunity accurately only in people who had been severely ill and that Britain was no longer hoping to buy millions of kits off the shelf.

Instead government scientists hope to work with companies to improve the performance of antibody tests. Professor Newton said he was “optimistic” that one would come good in months.

However, Dame Deirdre Hine, the public health expert who chaired an official review that criticised failures of modelling in the 2009 swine flu pandemic, said that it was “difficult to understand” why the government had not planned for more testing.

The scientist tasked with evaluating the antibody tests for the government said that it would be at least a month until one was good enough to offer to millions of people.

Sir John Bell, regius professor of medicine at the University of Oxford, wrote: “Sadly, the tests we have looked at to date have not performed well. We see many false negatives (tests where no antibody is detected despite the fact we know it is there) and we also see false positives.

“None of the tests we have validated would meet the criteria for a good test as agreed with the MHRA [Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency]. This is not a good result for test suppliers or for us.”

Sir John acknowledged that “large-scale testing is therefore a strategy which will be crucial for getting us back to our normal lives in the coming months”. He wrote: “The government will be working with suppliers both new and old to try and deliver this result so we can scale up antibody testing for the British public. This will take at least a month.”

Professor Newton, of Public Health England, was appointed to oversee testing last week as Matt Hancock, the health secretary, responded to criticism of the failure to increase checks quickly enough by promising to use private labs and hit 100,000 daily tests this month.

Professor Newton said that his priority was three “mega labs” for testing NHS staff and that he did not expect university and commercial labs to be much help in hitting the target.

“That’s a very clear message: we are not relying on lots of people coming forward to help us to achieve what’s required and we shouldn’t get too distracted by that,” he said. “There’s a big, big ask at the moment which is quite specific [on testing NHS staff]. So a lot of these companies who are offering their capacity may not be directly related to that ask and therefore they might not be as helpful at the moment.”

The antigen test to see who has the virus will be crucial in allowing NHS staff back to work if they do not have the virus, and a separate test that tells who has recovered from infection is seen as crucial to ending the lockdown.

The government has ordered millions of antibody tests but yesterday Mr Hancock said that “we still don’t have any that are good enough”.

Professor Newton said that all of the tests failed evaluations and “are not good enough to be worth rolling out in very large scale”.

Some of the tests have not been total failures, but Professor Newton said: “The test developed in China was validated against patients who were severely ill with a very large viral load, generating a large amount of antibodies . . . whereas we want to use the test in the context of a wider range of levels of infection including people who are quite mildly infected. So for our purposes, we need a test that performs better than some of these other tests.”

The government is still looking for commercial tests but it has accepted that rollout is months away.

Previously officials had spoken of sending millions of home test kits in days, but Professor Newton said “the idea that we might have it in days was based on the fact that we might just buy the existing test, and at the moment the judgment is that that wouldn’t be the best thing to do. It would be better to try and improve the test”.

He added: “The scientists in Oxford who have been evaluating them are working with manufacturers to say, ‘We’ve tested your test, and it doesn’t seem to perform quite well enough, but we think we can work with you to improve it.’ So it is a little bit uncertain but there are commercial partners able to work with us. I’m optimistic.”

Dame Deirdre, who chaired the official review into the swine flu, said: “I am finding it difficult to understand why both the antigen testing and the antibody testing is taking so long to get off the ground.”

In 2010 Dame Deirdre’s report said that ministers and officials had “unrealistic expectations of modelling, which could not be reliable in the early phases when there was insufficient data. Once better data was available, modelling became extremely accurate.”

She said: “I think that if there is anything perhaps where the response could have been better this time it is on the whole question of testing.”

The government also risks losing an opportunity to buy 400,000 tests a week from South Korean manufacturers, because of officials’ failure to respond to the offer, it has been claimed. Ten days ago a British businessman approached health officials after a Korean investor who has connections with LG helped to persuade five manufacturers to sell their diagnostic tests to the UK. Steve Whatley, who runs a financial technology business, said: “We just need a letter saying, ‘Subject to the tests being proven, then the UK will take x amounts of kits per week for x long.’ ”

At-risk doctors kept waiting

Less than a third of doctors with symptoms of Covid-19 are able to get tested for the disease, according to a survey by the Royal College of Physicians (Kat Lay writes).

It also found that one in five did not have access to the personal protective equipment they need to safely treat coronavirus patients.

Andrew Goddard, the RCP president, said the findings of the survey of 2,513 respondents, were “a stark indication of the incredibly difficult situation facing our members working in the NHS”.

Matt Hancock told Sky News yesterday that 8 per cent of NHS frontline staff were self-isolating and off work. However, the RCP’s survey suggested the figure could be as high as 14 per cent.

Many of those off work are thought to be in isolation because of a member of their household with symptoms. The poll found almost nine out of ten doctors could not access Covid-19 testing for someone in those circumstances.

Professor Goddard added: “The government’s current strategy to deliver testing that would support NHS staff to return to the workforce as quickly as possible clearly isn’t working.” He called for the government to publish its plan, timeline, and the challenges that it expected.

The traffic light exit strategy to free the UK from lockdown 

Another view on developing an exit strategy from a couple of economists.

(Owl doesn’t think many secrets will be given away by disclosing that Owl remembers attending the odd lecture from one of them).

Larry Elliott, economics editor, the Guardian

Britain has been in lockdown for two weeks and it has been the grimmest of fortnights. The number of daily deaths from Covid-19 has continued to rise steadily and large chunks of the economy have been brought to a standstill.

As yet, there are few hard numbers to judge the economic impact, but the collapse seen in the past few weeks is without precedent both in its speed and its severity. The increase in the numbers applying for universal credit suggest that unemployment is rising rapidly despite the government schemes to support both the employed and the self-employed.

The aim of the Treasury and the Bank of England is to get the UK through the crisis with a minimum of scarring. Hence there are loan guarantees designed to prevent businesses that were perfectly viable a month ago from going bust as a result of the shutdown. The hope is that wage subsidies will prevent workers from losing touch with the labour market and becoming long-term unemployed.

But clearly the longer it takes to tackle the health emergency the greater the economic damage will be. A 20% drop in output in one quarter – a perfectly feasible possibility – would be bad enough, but what if the lockdown were extended into the summer or the autumn?

Mervyn King, the former governor of the Bank of England, said last week that it was unrealistic for the government to keep the lockdown in place indefinitely and that if it went on for months on end there would be a rebellion against it.

That assessment is almost certainly right. The government does need an exit strategy but it is also being warned by epidemiologists that if the restrictions are relaxed too soon the virus could return. A second lockdown would not just be hugely unpopular, it would also magnify the economic damage.

The government says any decisions it takes on ending the lockdown will be based on science, but the scientists don’t always agree. That’s because they are using models and these have limitations. Why? Because the results of epidemiological models depend on what is fed into them, and this requires the scientists to make a number of assumptions about human behaviour.

This is a point made by Gerard Lyons and Paul Ormerod in an important new paper that might just offer the government the sort of exit strategy that King was talking about.

Lyons and Ormerod do not dispute that a lockdown was necessary. Indeed, they think that the government’s initial idea that the population would develop “herd immunity” to the virus was dangerous nonsense.

The evidence from other countries is that social distancing, shutting the restaurants and bars, discouraging unnecessary travel and getting people to work from home if they can does have an impact.

Before the lockdown began, estimates suggested that on average each person with the virus infected between two and 3.5 other people. Without action, the virus would have carried on spreading, putting intolerable pressure on the NHS and killing many more people. This is known as the reproduction number: if it is above one, someone who is infected will pass it on to more than one person. If it is less than one, it will fade away. The experience of China and Italy is that lockdowns will get the reproduction number below one.

But the danger is that the reproduction number could go back up again if Britain went straight back to business as usual the moment the lockdown restrictions were lifted. If people celebrated en masse by going to the pub, to the football or by having a street party, there would be risk that the reproduction number would go up again and the virus would return. It is this possibility that concerns the epidemiologists.

Taken to extremes, this would involve continuing the lockdown until there was no longer a risk of someone with the virus infecting anyone else and so ensuring that no one dies. But as Lyons and Ormerod points out, a similar approach would involve the banning of all road traffic to prevent the nearly 2,000 deaths a year on the road in Britain.

Instead, they suggest that the return to normal life takes place under a traffic light system that will exploit the fact that people are going to be a lot more cautious in their behaviour after the crisis than they were before.

“If people revert very quickly to the patterns of behaviour before the crisis, the epidemiological models are correct. There would be a second wave of infections. But behaviour will be different, either because of the lessons people have learned during this crisis, or because of the constraints placed upon them by rules and regulations.”

The paper suggests that phase one of the process involves moving from lockdown to red. In this period, more but not all shops would open and they would have to observe the strict social distancing currently seen in supermarkets. Travel would be discouraged and many international flights banned.

In the amber phase, unlimited car journeys would be allowed, and the wearing of face masks and disposable gloves would be mandatory on public transport. Restaurants would be allowed to open only if they had strict seating demarcations to keep people at a safe distance.

It would only be when the light turned to green that any sort of sporting event or other mass gatherings, such as music festivals could take place, and the churches, temples and mosques open their doors.

Inevitably there will be those with different views about what should be included in the red, amber and green phases. But it’s worth noting that Lyons was once an adviser to Boris Johnson when he was mayor of London. The prime minister might just be listening.


More than 1,500 small business grant applications made in East Devon

More than 1,500 claims for small business support have been made in East Devon, the district council has confirmed.

Daniel Wilkins 

East Devon District Council (EDDC) said it has received 1,512 claims for grant funding under a Government scheme aimed at helping businesses forced to close due to coronavirus.

So far, more than £5 million in grants has been approved for payment to local businesses, through 522 successful claims.

The updated advice from the Government said there are two different grants which businesses can apply for:

  • Scheme one: Small Business Grant Fund
  • Scheme two: Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Business Grant Fund

The district council said nearly 1,000 East Devon businesses eligible for the second scheme are being contacted by letter and email.

According to EDDC, firms in East Devon benefitting from the altered business rates retail discounts have been receiving adjusted rates bills this week.


UK missed coronavirus contact tracing opportunity, experts say

The government has been accused of missing an opportunity after it failed to deploy 5,000 contact tracing experts employed by councils to help limit the spread of coronavirus.

Beggars belief – Owl 

Rachel Shabi

The government has been accused of missing an opportunity after it failed to deploy 5,000 contact tracing experts employed by councils to help limit the spread of coronavirus.

Environmental health workers in local government have wide experience in contact tracing, a process used to prevent infections spreading and routinely carried out in outbreaks such as of norovirus, salmonella or legionnaires’ disease. But a spokesperson for Public Health England (PHE), which leads on significant outbreaks, said the organisation did not call upon environmental health workers to carry out contact tracing for coronavirus, instead using its own local health protection teams.

According to the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health the UK has, at a conservative estimate, 5,000 environmental health officers working in local councils nationwide.

The institute’s Northern Ireland director, Gary McFarlane, said government health bodies “absolutely should be drawing on the skills set of EHOs [environmental health officers] and if they aren’t, it’s a missed opportunity”. He said: “There is significant capacity that is sitting there for this kind of work to be done.”

PHE’s contact tracing response team was boosted to just under 300 staff, deemed adequate for the containment phase of handling the Covid-19 virus up to mid-March. In that time the team, working around the clock, traced 3,500 people and supported the 3% of contacts found to be infected to self-isolate. Tracing was scaled back when the UK moved to the delay phase of tackling coronavirus in mid-March. It is now carried out in limited form, mainly for vulnerable communities.

An environmental health worker for a council in Scotland, who does not want to be named, said: “If councils had been given the go-ahead from the start, they could have put plans in place and now have a much flatter curve.” Another, with decades of experience, said he was “struggling to figure out” why this was not the case.

One environmental health worker for a north-western council said his team were expecting a call at the start of the coronavirus outbreak. He said: “We are pretty good at infection control and contact tracing, it’s part of the job. We thought we’d be asked and were shelving other work.”

Environmental health workers have recently been tasked with ensuring the public stick to social distancing rules. They have also been monitoring takeaways and food deliveries. Environment health departments have, like other areas of local government, suffered austerity cuts since 2010.

Contact tracing involves getting in touch with everyone an infected person might have seen and asking them to self-isolate in an effort to contain the virus.

The government decision to all but abandon contact tracing is not consistent with WHO guidelines, which urge a test-and-trace approach. At a WHO media briefing on Covid-19 in March, director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: “Tracing every contact must be the backbone of the response in every country.”

The approach has been carried out in other countries, including Ireland, Germany, South Korea and Singapore. In Germany, thousands of contact tracers are still working – with more being recruited – in part clearing a backlog of infections that occurred before the nation’s shutdown measures, according to Dr Philipp Zanger , head of the Institute of Hygiene, Infection Control and Prevention at the Rhineland-Palatinate agency for consumer and public protection.

Contact tracing is also used to prepare to tackle any outbreaks when the lockdown is eased, since “once we let ourselves out again, we will see more transmission again,” he said.

The UK government approach is understood to be that once virus infection numbers have tipped, manual contact tracing is unworkable, while social distancing and self-isolation measures reproduce much of its effect.

But Anthony Costello, professor of global health and sustainable development at University College London, said giving up on it was a mistake. “You still need to do it,” he said, highlighting regions where infection numbers were relatively small. “In low-intensity areas you could ramp up your testing … use all your people to jump on it.”

Environmental health officers say that as well as helping to slow the spread of a virus, tracing could provide information on how it spreads and, if successful in containing outbreaks in specific areas, could help direct healthcare resources.

The UK, US and Germany are developing smartphone apps to help trace coronavirus infections to ease national lockdowns. Versions of this technology have been used in South Korea and Singapore. Initial reports suggest the UK app would operate on a voluntary basis, while there are privacy concerns around the security of health and location data provided.

A PHE spokesperson said that contact tracing was no longer useful because “with such a level of sustained community transmission there is limited value in doing so”.


Nearly 400 Care Groups face “Protection Shortage”

Not a good time to conduct an administrative closure of care homes to meet a new business model. See previous posts on the Abbeyfield closure of the Budleigh care home “Shandford” (there are many of them – Owl)

Almost 400 care companies which provide home support across the UK have told the BBC they still do not have enough personal protective equipment (PPE).

Without protection, providers say they may not be able to care for people awaiting hospital discharge.

Of 481 providers, 381 – 80% – said they did not have enough PPE to be able to support older and vulnerable people.

The government said it was working “around the clock” to give the sector the equipment it needs.

The BBC sent questions to the nearly 3,000 members of the UK Homecare Association. 

About a quarter of respondents said they have either run out of masks or have less than a week’s supply left.

Second home owners ‘sharing tips on avoiding police’ to sneak into Wales at night

Second home owners are sharing tips so that they can sneak into Wales while avoiding police enforcing a ban on unnecessary travel, an MP has said.

Dwyfor Meirionnydd MP Liz Saville Roberts said that tourists were sneaking in at night in order to avoid detection, or even accepting the £60 fines and travelling on.

“I’m really sorry to have to make this message today but it’s evident that people are still arriving at their second homes and their holiday homes,” she said in a video message.

“The police are doing the best they can with the resources that are available to them and they do ask local people who have any reports of people travelling to such accommodation to contact them via email or via webchat.

“But we also have accounts of people with holiday homes sharing advice with each other to travel at night to avoid the police.

“And even the people who don’t care if they’re fined when they travel – they’ve set out and they want to arrive.

“Now, for people who are thinking about this, the rules are there for a reason. If you think you’re the exception to the rule, think again. You’re not. There are no exceptions in a pandemic.

“In south Gwynedd we do not have sufficient medical resources to cope with extra people. The shops don’t have the supplied to be able to cope with extra people.”


Meanwhile, Anglesey Council’s tourism portfolio holder, Councillor Carwyn Jones, has written to MP Virginia Crosbie urging her to press on the Army to blockade routes into the island.

“Reports are coming thick and fast from every corner of Anglesey of holiday homeowners and tourists arriving in their droves for a bit of Easter fun,” he said.

“Needless to say, the worry this is causing local constituents is considerable and it’s clear that these are showing no regards to the measures put in place by the Government and are putting lives at risk.

“The risk to the residents of Anglesey is increasing considerably and the ability of our NHS to cope. The measures need to be much stricter, powers to enforce stronger and more resources needed to manage and control the measures.

“The police are doing a fantastic job with the resource at their disposal, however more backing is needed and I would now suggest the Army needs to be deployed to help the situation by manning the two bridges and hotspots before more and more start arriving.”

LINO gets the message and so does Devon County – better late than never

Councillor Ben Ingham, Leader in name only (LINO) having lost his majority in EDDC, went on BBC Spotlight last night to tell visitors not to come to East Devon, or any other part of Devon, over Easter. 

On 22 March a group of MPs  across the region backed the call for tourists and second home owners in Devon and Cornwall to ‘Come back later’ in a bid to save the lives of those who live here during the coronavirus virus.

North Devon, whose Chief Executive took the lead a couple of weeks ago, has been more explicit and says that it is “closed” to visitors.

But only on 3 April were they joined by Devon County Council /devon-backs-calls-for-visitors-to-stay-home-and-stay-safe/

Devon backs calls for visitors to stay home and stay safe:

Devon County Council is backing the call from across the South West for visitors not to be tempted to visit the region at this time.

In the run up to the Easter bank holiday weekend, local authorities are reminding people of the Government advice against non-essential travel, as well as ensuring holiday accommodation providers stay closed.

The County Council recognises the importance of the tourism sector for Devon but it is urging people to stay at home, stay safe and wait until Covid-19 restrictions are lifted before paying a visit to the county.

Hotels, hostels, B&Bs, holiday rentals, campsites and caravan parks are among the businesses forced to close under Government guidelines to tackle the coronavirus pandemic. Among the exceptions are where:

  • People who live permanently in caravan parks or are living in holiday accommodation temporarily because their main residence is unavailable;
  • Critical workers and non-UK residents who are unable to travel to their country of residence during this period can stay in hotels or similar;
  • People who are unable to move into a new home, due to the current restrictions, can stay in hotels;
  • Where hotels, hostels and B&Bs are supporting homeless and other vulnerable people, such as those who cannot safely stay in their home, through arrangements with local authorities and other public bodies.

Councillor Rufus Gilbert, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Economy and Skills, said: “The partial lock-down implemented by the Government is for everybody’s benefit as the country battles to bring the coronavirus under control. We all need to play our part to protect each other and do what we can to reduce the spread of coronavirus, and we would hope that everyone obeys the national guidance.

“Tourism is an important part of Devon’s economy and tourism businesses and accommodation providers will be suffering, just as many sectors are during this crisis. If we all take the Government advice on board to stay at home and only make essential journeys, the sooner we will get through this crisis and get Devon open for business, so that people can pay us a visit at a later date.”

Police and Devon, Somerset and Torbay Trading Standards have powers to investigate any holiday accommodation that might be flouting the current Government guidelines.

Local people using Devon’s Public Rights of Way and recreational trails as part of their daily exercise are also being urged to follow Government guidance while outside.

Notices on some of Devon’s public rights of way are reminding people to keep a 2-metre distance with a maximum of two in a group from the same household. Dog walkers are also asked to keep dogs under close control and to keep to the line of the path.