Wednesday 14 October 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Response Update from Devon County Council

The government’s new three-tiered system of local COVID alert levels comes into force today in England.

Devon is at ‘medium’ alert level.

We’ve put together this email to help you understand what that means.

What do local COVID alert levels mean?
Local COVID alert levels set out information for local authorities, residents and workers about what to do and how to manage the outbreak in their area.

It lets you know what you can and cannot do if you live, work or travel in each local COVID alert level.

You can find out the alert level of your local area by using your postcode on the government’s website. Devon is at ‘medium’ alert.

There’s also an interactive map of the UK to show what rules apply where.

Why is the government introducing local COVID alert levels?
The government wants to make sure the right levels of intervention are made in the right places to manage coronavirus outbreaks.

They’ve simplified and standardised local rules so it’s easier for everyone to understand what they can and can’t do, depending on how prevalent coronavirus is in their area.

There are now three local COVID alert levels: medium, high and very high.

Devon is ‘medium local COVID alert level’. What does that mean?
Medium alert level areas are subject to the national restrictions that continue to be in place.

This means:

  • you must not socialise in groups larger than 6, indoors or outdoors (other than where a legal exemption applies)
  • businesses and venues can continue to operate, in a COVID-secure manner, other than those that remain closed in law
  • certain businesses are required to ensure customers only consume food and drink while seated, and must close between 10.00pm and 5.00am
  • businesses and venues selling food for consumption off the premises can continue to do so after 10.00pm as long as this is through delivery service, click-and-collect or drive-through
  • schools and universities remain open
  • places of worship remain open, subject to the rule of six
  • weddings and funerals can go ahead with restrictions on numbers of attendees
  • exercise classes and organised sport can continue to take place outdoors, or indoors if the rule of six is followed.

You must:

You should continue to:

  • follow social distancing rules
  • work from home where you can effectively do so
  • when travelling, plan ahead or avoid busy times and routes. Walk or cycle if you can.

Full guidance on the restrictions in place to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in an area where the local COVID alert level is medium is available on the government website.

Dr Virginia Pearson, Director of Public Health Devon, explains:
“There is no ‘low’ tier, so ‘medium’ is the lowest of the Prime Minister’s three alert levels.

“Most immediately, it means that we stay on track with the national and local measures that we have already got in place.

“In Exeter, the high number of cases – over 80 per cent of which are linked to the University student population – appear to have stabilised for the moment.

“That’s a positive sign, but is by no means a green light to relax the local measures introduced by the University.

“Elsewhere in the county, we are seeing a rise generally in the number of cases reflecting the national trend, but at the moment our case numbers remain below the national average.

“We are closely monitoring the numbers so that we can be quick to respond, and assess whether the current measures in place are sufficient to halt the spread, or whether more advanced restrictions are required.”

Read more about what Dr Pearson has said on our Newscentre. 

The latest national advice on coronavirus (COVID-19) is available on the Government website and NHS website.

You can find local guidance and information about the impacts on our services on the Devon County Council website.

Please forward this email to anyone you think would find it useful and encourage them to sign up.

Please note that all of our sites and offices are closed to the public, except for necessary prearranged visits, but you can still contact us if you need to.