Friday 26 June 2020 The Prime Minister’s announcement this week heralded the biggest changes in restrictions since the start of the lockdown. On Saturday 4 July, just over a week away, large parts of the economy will reopen, including the tourism and hospitality industry, which so many people in Devon rely on for their income.
We’ll also be able to see more of our family and friends, which is excellent news.
But while we enjoy more of the freedoms many of us previously took for granted, please remember, this isn’t over. Although the risk from coronavirus is now much lower, it’s still there.
If you’re out and about enjoying the best of what Devon has to offer this weekend, make sure you continue to follow the important public health advice about washing your hands and following social distancing guidelines to keep yourself and others safe and coronavirus under control. And if you develop symptoms, get tested.
In this update:
- Devon's hospitality industry to reopen next month
- Plans to ease shielding guidance for clinically vulnerable
- Devon schools call for clarity on September reopening
- Household vans able to use recycling centres
- New face covering journey assistance cards
- RNLI lifeguards return to more Devon beaches
Devon's hospitality industry to reopen next month
Earlier this week the government announced further easing of lockdown restrictions in England, including the reopening of the hospitality industry from Saturday 4 July.
In Devon, we have a £2 billion tourism economy, the biggest in the South West. The livelihoods of thousands of people in the county depend on it, so this is an important and significant moment for us all.
That said, we also understand some residents may feel uneasy about more people visiting the region again.
Since the start, Devon has maintained comparatively low rates of coronavirus cases. We’ve had one of the lowest rates of cases in the country in fact.
Our experts are keeping a very close eye on the progress of the virus, and so far the news continues to be good; even the relaxations of the lockdown, as we’ve seen in past weeks, have not not increased the spread.
So providing that the low trend in coronavirus cases locally and nationally continues, the county is in a good position to start welcoming visitors back next month.
But don't worry, there will be no hesitation in taking early action if there is any sign that the virus is making a comeback.
Remember, we all need to continue to be vigilant and to comply with public health measures and government guidance.
What can and can't I do?
The government has set out its plan to return life to as near normal as possible, for as many people as possible and as quickly and fairly as possible in order to safeguard livelihoods, but in a way that continues to protect our communities and the NHS.
The latest changes to the lockdown restrictions are due to come in to effect on Saturday 4 July.
To help you understand the changes, government has published a guide to what you can and can't do after 4 July.
There's also a guide to what you can and can't do right now, up until 4 July.
Don't forget to make sure you know how to stay safe outside your home and understand social distancing rules.
Shielding guidance to ease for clinically vulnerable
The government has announced a two-phased easing of the shielding restrictions as coronavirus infection rates continue to fall.
Thousands of clinically vulnerable Devon residents have been told they can spend more time outside their homes and see more people from Monday 6 July.
And unless there’s a significant rise in coronavirus cases, the government has said they expect to pause the shielding programme on 31 July, including the delivery of food parcels and medicine.
We understand that some vulnerable residents may be anxious about stepping outside again and adjusting to the changes.
Local support will continue with district councils helping arrange independent food deliveries and prescription collections through trusted charities, registered volunteers, community groups and supermarkets with priority delivery slots.
Advice is also available about financial support, transport to medical appointments and combatting loneliness.
If you would like to some support, please call your District Council.
Visit England - Know before you go
From Saturday 4 July, people will be able to enjoy staycations in England, with the reopening of accommodation sites.
Visit England has launched its ‘Know before you go’ campaign, to start to rebuild domestic tourism.
The campaign highlights what attractions and facilities are open, and it promotes ‘hidden gems’ rather than extremely popular destinations.
It encourages walking and cycling to destinations, as well as providing practical guidance on ‘how to respect, protect and enjoy England.’
Call for clarity on September reopening for schools
Devon’s schools are calling on the government to make it clear how they intend to get all pupils back in school in September.
Our deputy leader and Cabinet member for schools, Councillor James McInnes, has written to Education Secretary Gavin Williamson asking him for much greater clarity on how the return to class will be achieved.
You can read the letter on our website.
Household vans able to use recycling centres
Restrictions at our recycling centres have eased again this week, so personal vans are now allowed to bring household waste as long as it’s only the same amount that would fit in a normal sized family car or trailer.
This is so we can make sure our centres have enough capacity to serve as many people as possible and keep unloading times to a minimum.
Three of our recycling centres are particularly busy, so in order to manage demand and keep queues to a manageable level you’ll need to book a time slot online if you want to visit Exton Road (Exeter), Pinbrook Road (Exeter) and Brunel Road (Newton Abbot) in your van.
Unfortunately, vans can’t be accommodated at the Totnes and South Molton (Maclins Quarry) sites due to their size.
New face covering journey assistance cards
Stagecoach is encouraging passengers who are unable to wear a face covering on the bus due to a health condition or a disability to apply for new ‘face covering journey assistance cards’ to show to drivers when they board to confirm they are exempt from the legislation.
There is also a special card available if you need the driver to lower their face covering because you are hearing impaired and need to lip read.
Once you've filled in the application form, Stagecoach will email you a card that you can save to your phone and show to the driver when you get on the bus - or you can download and print your card. If you don't have a smartphone or printer, please contact your local team and they'll arrange for a printed card to be sent to you.
Extra support for new teachers
The government has announced that new teachers are set to receive a boost to their training and development amid a surge in applications to join the classroom since the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19).
Teachers across the country have been celebrated for their role in continuing to support children throughout the pandemic, and there has been a twelve per cent increase in applications for those looking to enter the classroom compared to the equivalent period last year.
The new induction programme is being launched in the North East, Bradford, Doncaster and Greater Manchester as planned from autumn 2020, ahead of a national rollout the following year.
Although Devon isn’t one of the areas included in the early roll out, a one-year funded offer of support will also be available to up to 3,000 early career teachers in response to the disruption to teacher training courses this academic year. The funding will focus on those serving disadvantaged communities.
High-quality training materials – developed for the Early Career Framework reforms – will also be made freely available to all early career teachers and their mentors from this September.
RNLI Lifeguards return to more Devon beaches
RNLI has announced the remaining beaches to have lifeguard patrols in Devon as the sun and surf return.
You can find out which beaches in the South West are lifeguarded on the RNLI website.
There’s warmer weather and a large swell are forecast for the coming week, so the charity is urging surfers and beach goers to heed safety advice.
And with the lighter evenings they’re also reminding you to take extra care if you are swimming or surfing outside of lifeguarded hours. Make sure you know your limits and what to do if you get into difficulty. Find out more about how to keep safe at the beach on the RNLI website.
Free cycle safety webinar
There's been a boom in cycling and walking during the coronavirus pandemic, and as the lockdown eases the government is keen to encourage people to continue travelling in a sustainable and healthy ways.
With many of us now using our bicycles for exercise or commuting, it's important to know how to stay safe in the traffic.
Love to Ride is hosting a free Urban Cycling Skills webinar on Thursday 9 July at 2.00pm.
It's being run by friendly adult cycle training experts who will share tried and tested advice to help you feel safer, more confident and happier about your cycle rides.
Register online or contact Love to Ride Devon with any questions.
Research programme to evaluate coronavirus tests
Finding out who has been infected with coronavirus is a key part of the response to this pandemic.
Getting quick and accurate test results when people show symptoms ensures that they receive appropriate care and it reduces the chances of it spreading.
Test results currently take a few days to come back, because it often involves sending samples away to laboratories.
But the life sciences industry has been developing new tests, to detect current infection and to find out if someone has previously been infected.
The new tests have yet to be thoroughly evaluated in the settings where they're likely to be used - hospitals, or in people's homes for example.
But some of them may be able to provide near immediate results. If proven, they have the potential to increase the speed and convenience of testing.
Work is underway with experts, highly experienced in evaluating diagnostic tests. Doing so will help the government and clinicians to understand the accuracy of these tests in patients.