Devon County Council - latest news, information and advice (20.7.20)

Friday 17 July 2020

In this update:

  • We’re working hard to ensure we keep residents safe
  • Residents and visitors asked to ‘stick with us’
  • Changes at Newton Abbot recycling centre
  • More libraries reopening
  • Face coverings – all you need to know
  • Eat out to help out campaign
  • Devon Together newspaper
  • A reminder to get tested


We’re working hard to ensure we keep residents safe

Local arrangements to keep a sharp look out for any potential new outbreaks of coronavirus in Devon and take swift and decisive action to tackle and contain it, are now up and running.

Devon’s COVID-19 Health Protection Board, Chaired by Dr Virginia Pearson, and Devon’s Local Outbreak Engagement Board, Chaired by the Leader of Devon County Council, John Hart, both met this week.

“Devon is in a good place right now,” said John Hart. “We continue to have one of the lowest number of cases in the country, and we want to keep it that way.”

Dr Pearson, Chair of the COVID-19 Health Protection Board, said: “Local arrangements to manage coronavirus effectively are up and running. We have access to information from Public Health England as well as our own intelligence and will be looking out for anything of concern such as a rise in overall numbers or if we see clusters of cases or hotspots appearing.

“If needed, we will take whatever action is necessary to make sure we keep numbers low and prevent the uncontrolled spread of this virus.”


Residents and visitors asked to ‘stick with us’

As schools close for the summer and the holiday season gets fully underway, the South West is calling on residents and visitors to do the right thing and follow the rules in order to play their part in keeping the region COVID-safe this summer.

Following the opening up of the hospitality and tourism sector two weeks ago, levels of infection and new cases in the South West have continued to remain among the lowest in the country – and South West leaders paid tribute to the businesses which have opened up for playing their part in keeping the area COVID-safe.

We are now entering the crucial time at the start of the summer tourism peak. As more residents take a break with their families, and as further lockdown restrictions are lifted, the onus is on each and every one of us to do our part in helping prevent the spread of the virus, which remains a serious threat to public health.

So the message in the South West is clear – whether you are visiting, living here or a resident about to go on holiday – stick with us and keep following the guidance to keep everyone safe.

That means continuing to observe social distancing, getting tested if you have symptoms, self-isolating when required to, washing hands regularly, wearing a face covering, and making use of hand sanitiser where it’s available.


To users of Newton Abbot’s recycling centre

Since we’ve reopened our recycling centres and adopted all the steps necessary for us to reopen safely, including social distancing and restricting the number of vehicles able to be on site, some of our centres have experienced lengthy queuing.

One such centre is our Brunel Road recycling centre in Newton Abbot. Queues there in particular are sometimes long and problematic.

So from Monday 27 July, we will be asking users of the Brunel Road Recycling Centre in Newton Abbot to show that they live in the Devon County Council area. Residents who live outside the Devon County Council area (for example Torbay or Plymouth) should take their household waste to their nearest recycling centre in their local authority area.

That way, we might ease some of the queuing.


More libraries opening their doors to public access

Our libraries started reopening earlier this month, with three libraries in Braunton, Chudleigh, and Honiton opening as a pilot with public access to choose books from shelves and use the computers. A fourth, in Brixham, also run by Libraries Unlimited, opened for public access.

Elsewhere in Devon, ‘Choose and Collect’ services have been operating, and people have been telephoning or emailing their library and arranging a collection date.

But from next week, Monday 20 July, more libraries will be opening to public access with the expected rules around social distancing, including those in Crediton, Dartmouth, Exmouth, Ilfracombe, Okehampton, Sidmouth, St Thomas (Exeter), South Molton and Tavistock.

You’ll also be asked to wear face coverings at our libraries from Friday 24 July.

Further information about what to expect in our libraries is available online.


All you might ever want to know about face coverings

We’re hearing a lot about face coverings and the requirement to wear them, on public transport for example, and in other enclosed spaces where social distancing is difficult and you’re likely to come into contact with other people.

From Friday 24 July that includes shops and supermarkets.

You can buy them. You can make them. You could also wear a scarf, bandana, or a religious garment. The important thing is, it’s got to fit securely around the side of the face, and cover the nose and mouth.

They’re actually more intended to protect others, not the wearer, against the spread of infection. It’s because the virus can spread by droplets from coughs, sneezes and speaking. Those droplets can be picked up on surfaces.That’s why social distancing, and regular hand hygiene is so very important. And covering any coughs and sneezes of course with a tissue and disposing of it properly.

It’s the combination of these three measures that helps stop the spread of coronavirus:

  • Keep your distance, as per social distancing
  • Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly
  • Wear a face covering, that fits over your nose and mouth

And those symptoms again. If you have any of these – a new continuous cough; a high temperature; or a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of smell or taste, then you must arrange to have a test and self isolate until you get your results.


Helping hand to restaurants and other eateries

To give restaurants and cafes a helping hand, the government’s launched an Eat Out to Help Out campaign.

It’s offering discounts at participating restaurants and other establishments that serve food on-premises.

But those establishments need to have registered first, otherwise they’ll not get the Government support.

Here’s how to register

So, from Monday 3 August to the Monday 31 August (but only on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays), restaurants and bars, cafes and other establishments who use the scheme will offer a 50 per cent reduction, to a minimum of £10 per person, to all diners who eat and/or drink-in.

Customers don’t need a voucher. The participating businesses will just reclaim the discounted amount through an online service.


Who likes to move it move it?

If you like to exercise, here’s the latest on what you can do, who with and where.

You can now exercise alone, with members of your household or with up to 5 other people from outside your household.

Up to two households are permitted to gather in groups of more than 6 people in or outdoors, so long as people social distance.

If you live alone, you’re able to bubble with another household, with social distancing.

If you are symptomatic or live with someone who has or possibly has COVID-19, please just stay home – and don’t have visitors.

If you’ve been told to isolate by NHS Test and Trace, because you’ve been in contact with a confirmed case, please do so. You can exercise at home or in the garden, but please don’t go further than that. And don’t exercise with anyone else.

Here’s a link to what sports facilities are open


Bringing you news in other formats

Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve tried to keep you up to date with the latest national advice and local news relating to COVID-19.

A lot of that is delivered digitally, through bulletins such as this, and online content on our website.

But not everyone is online, so alongside NHS Devon CCG and the Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioners Office, we have joined forces to produce a newspaper.

It’s called Devon Together. It’s a one-off, and we’ve produced it with our colleagues at the Archant newspaper group which publish the Exmouth Journal, Mid Week Herald, North Devon Gazette and Sidmouth Herald as well as Devon Life magazine.

It’s being delivered to around 300,000 households across Devon, and door-to-door deliveries start today for a week or so.

The purpose of it, like this, is to keep people informed of the latest news and information.

There are some copies available for free from supermarkets in the county, so look out for one.

It is of course also available digitally.


Test and Trace reminder

We all have an important role to play in protecting each other from the spread of coronavirus, so just a quick reminder that if you develop any symptoms of coronavirus you should self-isolate immediately and urgently book a free test by visiting the NHS website.

Don’t forget, you must continue to self isolate until you’ve got your results and if they’re positive you’ll need to give the NHS Test and Trace service the details of everyone you have recently been in contact with.

They will then be contacted by either text, phone call or email and told to self-isolate for up to 14 days, even if they are not showing any symptoms of coronavirus. This is because it can take up to 14 days for symptoms to appear.

You can find out more about the NHS Test and Trace Service and how it works on the NHS website.


Facts and figures around wider impact of COVID-19

We will no doubt all have found new routines and habits over the last three or so months, with lockdown, self-isolation and shielding.

Many parents have been juggling working from home with home schooling and many others will have needed to face very different and very demanding challenges.

So, new habits. Some good. Some perhaps less so.

Public Health England has been looking at the wider impacts of COVID-19. They’ve looked at smoking and drinking habits, physical activity, how people are spending their time and grocery purchasing behaviour, for example.

They’ll keep up their studies, and add to the data. It all builds up a picture of how we’ve responded to the challenges we’ve faced, and still are facing.

Importantly, the data helps us monitor health inequalities, and provide demographic and regional breakdowns where possible.

Some headlines so far:

  • 18 to 24 year olds report drinking less each week during lockdown; whereas those aged 24 to 64 report drinking more
  • Fewer people aged between 16 to 24 report smoking during lockdown
  • Nearly 10 per cent of smokers have tried quitting during lockdown. Just over 10 per cent have started using e-cigarettes
  • The proportion of adults who said they felt anxious or that they had low self-worth in the weeks just prior and starting lockdown was about double the average figure for 2019. That figures dropped a little since, but it’s still well above 2019 levels

We’ll come back to this in later editions of this bulletin as more data becomes available, and share information about how small steps can lead to healthier living.

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.