Would-be holiday makers are being warned ‘not to put the summer at risk’ by travelling down to Devon this Easter before lockdown restrictions ease.
Daniel Clark www.devonlive.com
Under the government’s roadmap, Monday, April 12, is the earliest date outdoor attractions and self-contained accommodation such as campsites and holiday lets, where indoor facilities are not shared with other households, are allowed to open.
Until then, many facilities, shops and hospitality venues will not be fully open with food and drink only available from essential shops or takeaways.
Visitors are being warned it is illegal and could be dangerous to travel before Government restrictions are lifted.
With Easter approaching, there are fears a minority of tourists might be tempted to travel early and before facilities are ready or attractions are open, Thursday’s Devon County Council corporate infrastructure and regulatory services scrutiny committee meeting heard, with the potential that the ‘false start’ to the tourist season would risk spreading Covid-19 and put unnecessary extra strain on the emergency services.
Keri Denton, Devon County Council’s head of economy, skills and enterprise said: “We will give people a warm welcome when the guidelines allow but not before.
“We are not ready for visitors yet and we do not want to put the summer at risk for the sake of a few more weeks.
“After all our hard work to keep Covid-19 cases in Devon so low we do not want to risk things now.
“We ask everyone thinking of coming to Devon after April 12, to behave responsibly and make sure you book the sort of accommodation and experiences you can enjoy safely in advance.
“We also ask potential visitors, as well as our own residents thinking of travelling within Devon, to take extra care and to show our local communities respect and courtesy. This includes the simple things like parking responsibly, respecting the countryside and taking litter away.”
But Dr Phil Norrey, Devon County Council’s chief executive, added: “Last year we saw little evidence of transmission of the disease in outdoor settings so even if there is the usual or enhanced number of visitors, it won’t pose an increased risk based on what happened last year.”
The council is also urging Devon residents and potential visitors after Monday, April 12, to take extra care, to act responsibly and to show local communities courtesy and respect at all times, and with them being urged to ‘find a bin or take it home’ in a new county-wide anti-littering campaign.
As lockdown eases and the warmer months beckon, the multi-agency partnership Clean Devon wants to encourage everyone to take more responsibility for their rubbish whilst enjoying the beautiful moors, beaches, wildlife, countryside, towns and villages.
Littering is an increasing burden on society, both financially and environmentally and the partnership aims to improve the issue through preventing, detecting and deterring this type of behaviour in Devon.
Principal waste manager from Devon County Council and Clean Devon co-ordinator, Annette Dentith, says: “One of our key priorities is to protect and enhance Devon’s wonderful environment. Local authorities do their best to keep bins emptied however with increased visitors over the warmer months we must take responsibility for our own rubbish.
“If bins are full, bring your own bag and dispose of it when you return home. Please don’t leave it next to an already full bin as this contributes to littering and is considered fly-tipping for which you could be fined. It’s really important we protect our beautiful county, not only for ourselves but for future generations.”
Infection rates in the county are down to 15.3/100,000 – the lowest on the mainland of England with only the Isle of Wight lower – with North Devon, the South Hams, Teignbridge, Torridge and West Devon is the bottom ten for lower tier authorities.
Dr Norrey told councillors on Thursday that cases were still declining – and have dropped by 25 per cent in the last week – but that at the lower levels they are currently seeing, further declines will be slower and bumpier.
Steve Brown, director of Public Health Devon, added that we are all going to have to learn to live safely with COVID-19 for the foreseeable future, and that a key part of that is for us to keep the infection rates as low as possible.
Mr Brown said: “Please continue to maintain your social distance, wear your face coverings when you’re indoors in a public place, and remember to wash your hands frequently and properly.
“If you are somebody who has to leave home to work or volunteer, or you’re a carer for somebody, or you happen to be in a family, household or maybe a bubble with somebody who attends a nursery or education, please access regular testing twice a week.”