Exmouth/Starcross Ferry service refuses to carry passengers without face masks

A ferry service between Exmouth and Starcross has split opinion after making face masks compulsory for passengers, including those medically exempt.

Alex Davis www.devonlive.com 

The ferry made the announcement yesterday (July 18) on its Facebook page, stating that the ferry would be too small to accommodate those without masks

The post read: “All customers please take note from Monday 19th we are sticking to the face coverings rules which we have been running.”

“We did ask our passengers on Facebook what they would prefer and it come back keep the face coverings. With the social distancing rules change there will be lots of people sitting next to each other. So for everyone’s safety face masks or face covers must be worn by all passengers 6 years and over.”

“We are very sorry for people who can’t wear face masks. This is for everyone’s safety both crew and passengers.”

As of July 19, most legal restrictions have come to an end, including social distancing and social contact restrictions. Despite this, many businesses are still urging customers to wear face coverings in crowded, enclosed spaces.

Some commenters responded to the post, saying the company had made the right decision.

One commenter said: “Great idea, fully support. If people don’t like the cloth face coverings, they can always use the plastic visor type. Have you ever thought of standing for PM? Asking for a friend…..”

Another said: “Totally support your right to do this. Haven’t been on the ferry for a year but looking forward to joining you soon.”

While many commenters approved of the decision, many comments questioned why medically-exempt passengers wouldn’t be allowed to board without a covering.

One commenter asked: “So you will be discriminating against disabled people?”

Another said: “Appalling isn’t it. Discrimination against the disabled or those with underlying health issues.”

Starcross-Exmouth Ferry responded to these comments, saying: “We have been very busy and we haven’t got the space to put people without a mask.”

They added: “We are a private company trying to keep people safe. Just because your exempt what gives you the rights to do what you like. We do carry lots of exempt people who don’t mind sitting down for 15 minutes or so with a face covering.”

“We can’t take people in wheelchairs because they can’t get to us in the first place. There is a footbridge over the railway and steps at the end of the pier we land on.”

Scientist casts doubt on validity of Boris Johnson’s ‘workplace pilot’

A scientist has cast doubt on the validity of a workplace pilot scheme used by Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak to initially avoid self-isolation, accusing the government of secrecy surrounding it and other research.

Ben Quinn www.theguardian.com 

On Monday, 24 hours on from a hasty U-turn by the prime minister and chancellor, Downing Street faced fresh questions about the workplace study and was still unable to provide basic details such as its criteria, protocols and name.

The basic scientific validity of the study was questioned by Prof Jon Deeks, who is co-chair of a Royal Statistical Society working group reviewing evidence on Covid-19 testing, after it emerged that it has no control group.

A better-known, separate Department of Health and Social Care study involved some participants self-isolating and others being allowed to take daily tests instead after being selected at random.

Deeks, a professor of biostatistics at the University of Birmingham, speaking in a personal capacity said: “Without a control group what is this [workplace] study going to tell us? The question is also: what is the status of this alleged secret study which none of us knew about? It should have a name, a protocol, and approval from Public Health England’s ethics committee.

“Part of the problem is that the Department of Health have been quite secretive about their studies. They are just not transparent.”

Deeks said the workplace scheme was part of a pattern of government pilot events, which have included Euro 2020 and Wimbledon. “The government has also been doing a thing where they set up what they describe as a ‘pilot’ if they want something to happen,” he said.

“This was the case back in January as well in relation to schools. Rather than waiting for a proper scientific study to be done they call something a ‘pilot’ and because they are in charge of everything they appear to get away with it.”

Such an approach could be taken because the health secretary is in charge of testing, evaluation studies and the manufacture of test kits and also oversees the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), Deeks said.

The government was also grilled on Monday when the prime minister travelled to Chequers after being told he was a close contact of a Covid-positive case, the health secretary, Sajid Javid.

Johnson’s spokesperson gave different answers on the issue of when Johnson travelled from Downing Street to Chequers, first telling reporters it was at the “start of the weekend”, then Friday morning, then 3pm on Friday.

Separately, a letter released by the MHRA under the Freedom of Information Act made clear that lateral flow test kits of the type which Johnson would have used daily under the pilot scheme were not authorised for daily use unless part of an approved study.

The DHSC said 20 organisations were covered by the workplace pilot.

A union representing Border Force officers has criticised the scheme, which was set up in Manchester and Dover. The PCS spokesperson said: “The trial was extremely unpopular with our members who were put in unnecessary harm’s way by having to use public transport on their days off to come in to get tested. It was completely unworkable and staff preferred to self-isolate which is what the PM and chancellor should have done when they were pinged on the test-and-trace app.”

‘Rottenness at heart of Tories flows from PM who thinks rules are for others’

The Committee on Standards in Public Life was set up in the wake of Tory sleaze scandals under John Major.

It exists to make sure that ministers stick to the principles of integrity, honesty, transparency and selflessness.

Boris Johnson clearly doesn’t give a fig for such concepts.

Voice of the Mirror www.mirror.co.uk

If he did he would not have appointed former Bullingdon Club colleague Ewen Fergusson to the committee.

How can an organisation charged with policing cronyism operate successfully when it has a crony among its members?

The PM is making a mockery of accountability. His former ethics adviser quit after he failed to sack Priti Patel for bullying.

He has also refused to act over Covid contracts going to Tory donors and supporters.

There is a rottenness at the heart of this Government and it flows from a leader who believes that rules are for other people.

Planning applications validated by EDDC for week beginning 5 July

Boris Johnson refused autumn lockdown because Covid victims ‘essentially all over 80’, leaked messages suggest

Boris Johnson refused to take the country into lockdown in the autumn because “the people dying are essentially all over 80”, leaked phone messages appear to show.

Interview on BBC 2 at 1900 tonight – Owl


The WhatsApp chats, passed to the BBC by former No 10 chief of staff Dominic Cummings, also show the prime minister saying he did not “buy all this NHS overwhelmed stuff” months before deaths soared to over 1,000 a day.

And in his first interview since leaving No 10, Mr Cummings claimed the PM had to be stopped from going to see the Queen at the start of the pandemic.

Mr Johnson had already been told to avoid contact with the elderly after staff at No 10 had been taken ill.

Downing Street has not questioned the veracity of the leaked messages or denied the claims about the handling of the pandemic – though Mr Johnson’s office says the incident involving the Queen did not take place.

“He [Boris Johnson] said we should never have done the first lockdown, he said that repeatedly in meetings in No 10,” Mr Cummings, who quit in acrimony last year, told the BBC.

“After the first wave passed and after he came back to work, initially his view was essentially, thank goodness we did do that, but very quickly, as the Telegraph and various parts of the media and Tory Party started screaming, he then basically reverted and said, actually the whole thing was a disaster, we should never have done it, I was right in February, we should basically just ignore it and just let the thing wash through the country and not destroy the economy and move on.”

Mr Cummings claimed that Mr Johnson referred to TheTelegraph newspaper, which backed his leadership campaign and previously payed him £250,000 a year on top of his politicians’ salary to write a column, as “my real boss”.

Though public and scientific support for strong anti-Covid measures has remained high throughout the pandemic, a section of the Conservative-supporting press and some Tory MPs have pushed back against restrictions at every opportunity.

The former aide said the prime minister rejected the advice of chief scientific advisor and medical officer Patrick Vallance and Chris Whitty when they told him to lock down hard and early.

Messages apparently dating from 15 October – two weeks before the prime minister ordered another lockdown – appear to show Mr Johnson unperturbed by the mounting death toll.

“I must say I have been slightly rocked by some of the data on Covid fatalities,” the messages appear to show the prime minister saying.

“The median age is 82 – 81 for men 85 for women. That is above life expectancy. So get Covid and live longer.

“Hardly anyone under 60 goes into hospital (4 per cent) and of those virtually all survive. And I no longer buy all this NHS overwhelmed stuff. Folks I think we may need to recalibrate.”

Mr Cummings told the broadcaster: “His [Boris Johnson’s] attitude at that point [autumn 2020] was a weird mix of, er, partly it’s all nonsense and lockdowns don’t work anyway and partly well this is terrible but the people who are dying are essentially all over 80 and we can’t kill the economy just because of people dying over 80.”

“Lots of people heard the prime minister say that; the prime minister texted that to me and other people.”

“He put his own political interests ahead of people’s lives for sure.”

It has previously been reported that Mr Johnson said he would rather the “bodies pile high in their thousands” than order another lockdown – a claim that has not been denied by No 10.

Recounting Mr Johnson’s alleged attempt to visit the Queen when he may have been exposed to Covid-19, Mr Cummings said: “I said, what are you doing, and he said, I’m going to see the Queen and I said, what on earth are you talking about, of course you can’t go and see the Queen. He said, ah, that’s what I do every Wednesday, sod this, I’m gonna go and see her.”

“I said to him [Boris Johnson], there’s people in this office who are isolating, you might have coronavirus, I might have coronavirus, you can’t go and see the Queen. What if you go and see her and give the Queen coronavirus?

“You obviously can’t go … I just said if you, if you give her coronavirus and she dies, what are you gonna do? You can’t do that, you can’t risk that, that’s completely insane. And he said, he basically just hadn’t thought it through, he said, yeah, ‘holy s***, I can’t go.’”

A Downing Street spokesperson said: “Since the start of the pandemic, the prime minister has taken the necessary action to protect lives and livelihoods, guided by the best scientific advice,” the spokesperson said.

“The government he leads has delivered the fastest vaccination rollout in Europe, saved millions of jobs through the furlough scheme and prevented the NHS from being overwhelmed through three national lockdowns.

“The government is entirely focused on emerging cautiously from the pandemic and building back better.”

Confusion over when Boris Johnson left No 10 for Chequers as spokesperson changes story

Downing Street in muddle over prime minister’s movements – as Labour demands to know if he knew Sajid Javid was feeling ill


Keir Starmer says Tory ministers ‘played the system’ to avoid self-isolation

No 10 changed its story about when Boris Johnson left for his Chequers country home, as Labour demanded to know if Sajid Javid already had Covid “symptoms”, following the pair’s meeting.

The prime minister’s spokesperson first said the departure was at “the start of the weekend”, then said it was on Friday morning – before correcting himself by stating it was at 3pm on Friday.

He did not answer directly whether Mr Johnson knew if his health secretary was feeling ill when he left London for Chequers – after a Friday meeting between the pair.

“The correct process has been followed,” the spokesperson said, stating Mr Johnson was at the country home when he was identified as a close contact of Mr Javid, by the test and trace system.

“Once contacted by NHS Test and Trace over the weekend, he has isolated and has not travelled subsequently because he did not want to travel across the country,” he added.

Mr Johnson led a press conference by video link – from Chequers – while Patrick Vallance, the chief scientific adviser, and deputy medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam spoke from Downing Street.

Sir Keir Starmer said there were questions to be answered, asking: “Did Boris Johnson travel to his country retreat after Sajid Javid first had symptoms?

“We know the prime minister likes to look for a loophole. We need to know when the prime minister was contacted and where he was.”

In a contradictory briefing, the spokesperson was unable to say when Mr Johnson learnt of Mr Javid’s positive test – or when he was identified as a close contact by test and trace.

At one point he stated he left for Chequers on Friday morning – before it was pointed out that there were photos of the health secretary leaving the pair’s meeting early on Friday afternoon.

After stating the departure was at 3pm, the spokesperson said: “The health secretary took his test on Saturday, so the correct process has been followed.”

He would not say whether Carrie Johnson, the prime minister’s wife was with him, but did state that the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, is quarantining in his flat above No 10.

Downing Street issued a statement at 8am on Sunday stating that both Mr Johnson and Mr Sunak would swerve isolation rules by taking part in a “daily contact testing workplace pilot”

But it was forced into a rapid U-turn amid public anger over the impression that they were dodging strict rules imposed on everyone else contacted by test and trace.

The isolation means a crucial meeting with Irish premier Micheal Martin – to discuss the crisis over the Northern Ireland Protocol and the proposed amnesty for Troubles’ killings – was scrapped.

Covid rips through Devon community

“Infection rates across Devon are the highest they have ever been – currently at 319.3/100,000 – and are set to rise further in upcoming days as more data gets added.”

Daniel Clark www.devonlive.com

Braunton in North Devon saw more than one per cent of its residents test positive for coronavirus last week.

Latest figures for the county’s MSOA areas for the seven day period between July 8-14 show every single area is recording a cluster of three or more cases.

Four of the top five areas where the highest number of cases were confirmed were in Torbay, with Chelston, Cockington & Livermead, Paignton Central, Torquay Central, and Blatchcombe & Blagdon all seeing more than 60 cases confirmed.

But Braunton saw 96 cases in that seven day period – and with an infection rate of 1,017.4/100,000, it means that more than one per cent of the population tested positive.

Infection rates across Devon are the highest they have ever been – currently at 319.3/100,000 – and are set to rise further in upcoming days as more data gets added.

Steve Brown, Devon’s director of public health, said that while restrictions may have changed, “our responsibility as members of our family, friends and society have not changed”, and urged residents to think carefully about their actions.

He added: “We need to take personal responsibility, remain cautious, and continue with the efforts we have made so far in helping to stop the spread.

Promoted Stories

“Employers also, the rules have changed, but please continue to do the right thing by your workforce and your customers.

“The goalposts may have moved with the intended lifting of restrictions, but our responsibility as members of our family, friends and society have not changed. Please choose to do the right thing for ourselves and others.”


AreaMSOAInfection RateCases
North DevonBraunton1017.496
TorbayChelston, Cockington & Livermead822.390
TorbayPaignton Central733.470
TorbayTorquay Central82863
TorbayBlatchcombe & Blagdon506.161
Mid DevonBradninch, Silverton & Thorverton717.560
East DevonCranbrook, Broadclyst & Stoke Canon423.457
Mid DevonCullompton636.756
East DevonExmouth Town73154
East DevonExmouth Withycombe Raleigh687.951
TorbayShiphay & the Willows482.551
TorbayBrixham Town507.548
East DevonExmouth Halsdon663.246
ExeterPennsylvania & University386.945
ExeterPinhoe & Whipton North469.744
TorbayBabbacombe & Plainmoor729.541
ExeterMiddlemoor & Sowton318.740
Mid DevonTiverton North & Outer448.939
North DevonIlfracombe East724.539
TeignbridgeNewton Abbot, Broadlands & Wolborough676.139
TorbaySt Marychurch & Maidencombe640.137
TeignbridgeNewton Abbot, Town Centre575.536
TorbayUpton & Hele561.436
East DevonOttery St Mary & West Hill392.935
TeignbridgeChudleigh & Bovey Tracey358.835
North DevonIlfracombe West57634
South HamsWoolwell & Lee Mill554.234
TeignbridgeTeignmouth South499.434
TeignbridgeNewton Abbot, Highweek552.834
East DevonExmouth Littleham425.932
Mid DevonTiverton East430.232
TorbayPreston & Shorton362.732
TeignbridgeOgwell, Mile End & Teigngrace369.631
East DevonExmouth Brixington463.230
ExeterExwick & Foxhayes383.329
ExeterCountess Wear & Topsham375.929
South HamsWembury, Brixton & Newton Ferrers428.129
ExeterSt James’s Park & Hoopern292.128
North DevonWoolacombe, Georgeham & Croyde519.428
North DevonBarnstaple South314.928
South HamsIvybridge238.228
TorridgeBideford South & East218.528
East DevonFeniton & Whimple308.227
ExeterMincinglake & Beacon Heath384.727
South HamsYealmpton, Modbury & Aveton Gifford350.427
South HamsTotnes Town29426
South HamsMarldon, Stoke Gabriel & Kingswear34726
ExeterHeavitree West & Polsloe292.825
ExeterSt Thomas West343.625
Mid DevonTiverton West396.325
North DevonSouth Molton250.725
East DevonSeaton318.524
ExeterSt Thomas East293.324
West DevonTavistock191.324
ExeterCentral Exeter190.323
Mid DevonUffculme & Hemyock336.323
TeignbridgeTeignmouth North271.623
TorbayClifton & Maidenway323.523
ExeterHeavitree East & Whipton South291.722
ExeterWonford & St Loye’s265.522
Mid DevonCrediton277.622
North DevonBratton Fleming, Goodleigh & Kings Heanton357.722
TorbayChurston & Galmpton325.122
East DevonHoniton North & East347.221
East DevonAxminster225.321
North DevonRoundswell & Landkey227.121
TeignbridgeDawlish North247.121
TeignbridgeDawlish South31321
TeignbridgeHeathfield & Liverton325.521
North DevonLynton & Combe Martin364.820
North DevonBarnstaple Central315.320
South HamsLoddiswell & Dartington276.820
TorbayGoodrington & Roselands279.820
TorridgeHolsworthy, Bradworthy & Welcombe197.420
East DevonPoppleford, Otterton & Woodbury308.819
South HamsKingsbridge292.519
South HamsChillington, Torcross & Stoke Fleming335.519
East DevonKilmington, Colyton & Uplyme215.618
ExeterSt Leonard’s267.918
ExeterAlphington & Marsh Barton245.218
TeignbridgeNewton Abbot, Milber & Buckland321.318
East DevonClyst, Exton & Lympstone248.717
North DevonBarnstaple Pilton291.617
South HamsSalcombe, Malborough & Thurlestone329.117
East DevonSidmouth Sidford227.616
Mid DevonMorchard Bishop, Copplestone & Newton St Cyres215.616
South HamsDartmouth294.816
TeignbridgeBishopsteignton & Shaldon238.916
TorbayHigher Brixham212.716
West DevonBere Alston, Buckland Monachorum & Yelverton252.616
North DevonBarnstaple Sticklepath254.515
North DevonFremington & Instow234.515
TeignbridgeStarcross & Exminster173.615
TeignbridgeAshburton & Buckfastleigh186.715
TorridgeBideford North251.715
Mid DevonWilland, Sampford Peverell & Halberton191.314
East DevonBudleigh Salterton209.113
TeignbridgeTedburn, Shillingford & Higher Ashton241.513
TeignbridgeIpplepen & Broadhempston231.513
TorridgeGreat Torrington217.413
TorridgeShebbear, Cookworthy & Broadheath183.613
West DevonChagford, Princetown & Dartmoor187.213
West DevonHorrabridge & Mary Tavy197.812
Mid DevonBampton, Holcombe & Westleigh160.711
South HamsSouth Brent & Cornwood132.311
TorridgeWestward Ho! & Northam South172.411
West DevonHatherleigh, Exbourne & North Tawton103.710
West DevonLifton, Lamerton & Bridestowe150.410
East DevonHoniton South & West163.69
TorridgeWinkleigh & High Bickington123.19
North DevonBishop’s Nympton, Witheridge & Chulmleigh117.28
TorridgeAppledore & Northam North131.28
East DevonSidbury, Offwell & Beer129.77
East DevonSidmouth Town133.67
TeignbridgeMoretonhampstead, Lustleigh & East Dartmoor1197
TorridgeHartland Coast76.85
West DevonOkehampton65.75
East DevonDunkesewell, Upottery & Stockland68.94
Mid DevonBow, Lapford & Yeoford47.13