COVID-19 INFORMATION

Covid Advice/News over the Easter Holiday – 1 April 2021

(click here for PDF)


Coronavirus update from North Devon Council – 31 March 2021

Protecting ourselves and each other as we move out of lockdown
On 22 February 2021, the Government published its ‘Roadmap out of Lockdown which set out how national coronavirus restrictions would be eased in stages, with reviews taking place on set dates.
We passed the first milestone and changes to restrictions came on the 8 March, with the re-opening of schools and allowing people to meet one on one outdoors.  It is possible that most restrictions on social contact could be lifted by 21 June, however this is the earliest possible date and is subject to the step-by-step review process.

The current situation
We have now passed the second review stage and another change to the restrictions on social contact has now been introduced.  Six people, or a larger group if just two households are present, can meet outside including in private gardens.  This change in the restrictions will allow people to reconnect with their loved ones and safely begin to have more of the social contact we have been missing.
Evidence shows that meeting outdoors is safer than meeting indoors as you are much less likely to pass on or catch coronavirus in the open air, particularly if you are also adhering to social distancing and limiting the number of people you meet in line with the guidance.
It is also important to remember that while the requirement to stay at home has also been lifted, the advice is to minimise travel but if you do need to travel, to plan your trip carefully, wash your hands often, social distance and wear a mask in all applicable settings.  Overnight stays outside of your own home are still not permitted including over Easter weekend, when we know people will be making plans to meet up outdoors.  Trips abroad are still not allowed unless for certain exempted reasons.
These steps will help stop the transmission of coronavirus from different areas of the country and from household to household.  See the guidance for more information on how to stop the spread of coronavirus.
Whilst the number of people with coronavirus is reducing, and the number of people who have received their vaccination is increasing every day, it is still vitally important that we take these protective actions as we see restrictions slowly lifting.

Keeping infection rates low
Spring is here and with an Easter break from school, lots of people will likely be enjoying a break from work too.  We know how much people want to be reunited with their loved ones and while the restrictions protecting us won’t last forever, they remain very important right now.
Whilst the vaccination programme is making great progress and coronavirus infection rates continue to fall, we are still in an important moment where infections could start rising again if we do not continue to act to keep ourselves and others safe.
Receiving a COVID-19 vaccine will offer people personal protection and everyone should have confidence in the effectiveness of their jab, but being vaccinated doesn’t mean the restrictions no longer apply as you may still be able to pass on the virus even once you have had the vaccine.  It will continue to keep us all safe if we stick to the rules following vaccination and as we continue learning about how the virus is transmitted by people who are vaccinated.
Whilst infections have been successfully reduced during this national lockdown, case numbers are still relatively high in certain parts of the country and it is important to remember that around one in three people do not get symptoms and can pass on COVID-19 unknowingly.
This is why, as we begin to mix more outdoors, staying two metres apart, washing our hands regularly and wearing a face covering in all settings where it is required will keep making a vital contribution to keeping infection rates low.  If we mingle at close quarters or relax our vigilance about these steps and the restrictions in place, even after we have had the vaccine, we could undo what we have all made huge sacrifices to achieve.
While many vulnerable people have now received a vaccine, and people in their 50s are now eligible, not everyone at risk of serious illness is protected.  Those who are not yet vaccinated remain at the same risk of catching the virus if they come into contact with it and of becoming very unwell as a consequence. 
If we follow the guidance by keeping our plans local, coupled with protective actions such as remaining in small groups and only meeting outdoors, we can save lives.  Doing this will also keep us on track towards society opening up fully, and regaining the rewards and joys we remember from before the pandemic.

Social contact
The evidence shows that it is safer for people to meet outdoors rather than indoors.  And this is why, from 29 March, outdoor gatherings (including in private gardens) of either 6 people (the Rule of 6) or 2 households are allowed, making it easier for friends and families to meet outside.

Business and activities
Outdoor sports facilities such as tennis and basketball courts, and open-air swimming pools, will also be allowed to reopen and people will be able to take part in formally organised outdoor sports.

Travel
The ‘stay at home’ rule ended on 29 March but many restrictions will remain in place.  People should continue to work from home where they can and minimise the number of journeys they make where possible, avoiding travel at the busiest times and routes.  Travel abroad will continue to be prohibited, other than for a small number of permitted reasons.  Holidays abroad will not be allowed, given it will remain important to manage the risk of imported variants and protect the vaccination programme.  The government has launched a new taskforce to review global travel which will report on 12 April.

Looking ahead
The next stage in the roadmap for easing restrictions will come no earlier than 12 April, where we will hopefully see non-essential retail open, hair salons and beauty treatment resume and gyms and pools re-open. Hospitality such as pubs and restaurants will also open with outdoor service only.

People are rightfully feeling optimistic about the coming months and we have much to look forward to. We all want to get there and together we can, if we keep our focus on following the guidance and protecting ourselves and others throughout the different stages of the roadmap.

Clinically vulnerable no longer need to shield from 1 April

  • Advice to the clinically extremely vulnerable to shield ceases from Thursday 1 April, as virus infection rates continue to fall.
  • People on shielded patient list will receive letters from today with updated guidance on steps people can take to reduce their risk.
  • More than 9 in 10 clinically extremely vulnerable people have been vaccinated with a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

In line with the government’s COVID-19 Response – Spring 2021 roadmap published last month, those on the shielded patient list can begin to follow the national restrictions alongside the rest of the population, but are still advised to take extra precautions to keep themselves safe from COVID-19.
Letters to patients with updated guidance will be arriving from today and over the next 2 weeks.  These set out practical steps people can follow to reduce their risk of catching the virus, including continuing to maintain strict social distancing and to keep their overall social contacts at low levels, such as working from home where possible.

Tourist season is on the way
As restrictions ease, we are expecting a bumper tourism season, especially it’s looking unlikely people are going to unable to go abroad.  Things are going to be really busy in North Devon so it’s important to be prepared for this and expect places to be a lot busier.
All of these extra visitors may slow things down a bit and cause a bit of disruption but it’s going to be so fantastic for all of our tourism businesses and boost our local which is so desperately needed.  So let’s welcome them with open arms and show them what a fantastic place North Devon is!

Business restart grants
On 3 March 2021, the Chancellor announced that he would be providing a one-off grant called the Restart Grant (RG) from 1 April 2021.
It is a one-off business grant available to non-essential retail businesses (Strand One) and hospitality, accommodation, leisure, personal care and gym or sport business premises (Strand Two).
This grant replaces the Local Restrictions Support Grant from April 2021 onwards (for eligible businesses).
Please do not contact us directly about this grant scheme, we are busy working to get this application process launched as soon as possible, whilst managing the other grants schemes that are still running.
Updated information will be provided on our website and on our social media pages.

Where to find coronavirus data
For up to date information on cases across Devon, visit the Devon County Council Coronavirus dashboard:  DCC Covid Dashboard.

Other sources of advice and information
Avoid misinformation on Coronavirus – only follow advice from official, trusted sources.
Devon County Council
GOV.UK
NHS England
Public Health England


Coronavirus update from North Devon Council – 17 March

Do you have a question you want to ask the government?
Submit yours by going to gov.uk/ask and it may get answered at a future press conference.

Over 50’s to receive vaccines next
Everyone aged 50 and over in England is now being invited to book a coronavirus vaccination on the NHS website.  The NHS will let you know when it’s your turn to have the vaccine. It’s important not to contact the NHS for a vaccination before then.

Next step out of lockdown is due on 29 March
Social contact
The evidence shows that it is safer for people to meet outdoors rather than indoors.  And this is why from 29 March, when most schools start to break up for the Easter holidays, outdoor gatherings (including in private gardens) of either 6 people (the Rule of 6) or 2 households will also be allowed making it easier for friends and families to meet outside.

Business and activities
Outdoor sports facilities such as tennis and basketball courts, and open-air swimming pools will also be allowed to reopen and people will be able to take part in formally organised outdoor sports.

Travel
The ‘stay at home’ rule will end on 29 March but many restrictions will remain in place.  People should continue to work from home where they can and minimise the number of journeys they make where possible, avoiding travel at the busiest times and routes.  Travel abroad will continue to be prohibited, other than for a small number of permitted reasons.  Holidays abroad will not be allowed, given it will remain important to manage the risk of imported variants and protect the vaccination programme.  The government has launched a new taskforce to review global travel which will report on 12 April.

NHS text messages
The NHS is sending texts to some people to invite them to book a COVID-19 vaccine appointment. These may come from a local NHS service such as your GP Surgery, or from ‘NHSvaccine’.  Remember the NHS will never ask for payment details. Find out more about how they may contact you – nhs.uk/covid-vaccine-advice.

Census Day is Sunday 21 March
Just a reminder that you should have received your Census 2021 letter with your unique household access code. If you have any questions about the Census, please use the link below for answers to the most frequently asked questions:  FAQs

Where to find coronavirus data
For up to date information on cases across Devon, visit the Devon County Council Coronavirus dashboard:  DCC Covid Dashboard.

Other sources of advice and information
Avoid misinformation on Coronavirus – only follow advice from official, trusted sources.
Devon County Council
GOV.UK
NHS England
Public Health England


Citizens Advice Devon – Covid Winter Grant Scheme

Have you suffered financially due to the pandemic?  You may be eligible for financial assistance towards your home fuel costs.  There are still funds available to distribute up until 31st March.

Adviceline:  03444 111 444
Email:          infor@ruraldevoncab.org.uk
Website:      www.ruraldevoncab.org.uk


Latest Covid-19 Updates and Resources from Devon Communities Together

This 4th March 2021 Bulletin is a ‘bumper issue’ with information on:

  • The Covid 19 Community Testing Service
  • Encouraging vaccination-hesitant people to take the jab
  • Webinar and focus group for businesses and employers
  • School testing volunteers needed in a school near you.

You can continue to access various resources and advice from our website or for further detailed guidance, please call our Covid-19 Helpline (Monday-Friday 9am-5pm) 0808 196 3390.

Covid 19 Community Testing Service
Following the successful launch of the COVID-19 Community Testing Service in February in Exeter, more sites are opening over the next few weeks.
We are keen to encourage people who have to leave home to work or volunteer, or who are in contact with vulnerable people, to get tested regularly – helping to keep them and the wider community safe.  More information about the DCC Community Testing Service is available from devon.cc/testing.

Test site locations
Tests are available seven days a week from these locations, with early and late opening on Mondays and Thursdays:
–   Exeter: County Hall, Topsham Road, Exeter, EX2 4QD
–   Barnstaple: North Walk Car Park, Taw View, Civic Centre, Barnstaple, EX31 1EE
–   Tiverton: Exe Valley Leisure Centre, Bolham Road, Tiverton, Devon, EX16 6SG

Tests are available twice a week from these locations:
–   Axminster (Wednesday and Sunday): West Street Short Stay Car Park, West Street, Axminster, EX13 5NX
–   Exmouth (Tuesday and Saturday): Foxholes Car Park, Queen’s Drive, Exmouth, EX8 2DB
–   Honiton (Monday and Thursday): Blackdown House, Border Road, Heathpark Industrial Estate, Honiton, EX14 1EJ
–   From 6th March – Ivybridge (Wednesday and Saturday): Leanoard’s Road Car Park, Ivybridge, PL21 0RU
–   From 5th March – Okehampton (Tuesday and Friday): Mill Road Car Park, Okehampton, EX20 1PS
–   From 4th March – Tavistock (Monday and Thursday): Riverside Car Park, Tavistock, PL19 9A

Vaccination
The vaccine roll-out is happening at pace – we know that many of you will be thinking about your own vaccination as well as that of family members and the wider community.  The Government has asked that those of us who work with communities, and particularly with groups who are ‘vaccine hesitant’, help the national effort by providing reassuring and factual information about the COVID vaccine to counter concerns and misinformation.  It is particularly keen to reach the most vulnerable within disproportionately impacted communities – in particular Muslim, Black/African and Orthodox Jewish within BAME communities – as research suggests these are among the least likely to accept the offer of a vaccine.  Trusted groups such as your own may be in a position to support communities to engage with the vaccination effort.  As such, we wanted to share with you a useful toolkit of case studies and other communication assets the Government has supplied/created.  This is to support you in your vital work.

Your school needs Volunteers – Can you help
As the schools are getting set to return on March 8th, we’re working with the sector to recruit volunteers to help with a Covid-19 testing programme for returning children.  Volunteers are needed in the following areas: Braunton, Chulmleigh, Cullompton, Dawlish, Exeter, Exmouth, Great Torrington, Newton Abbot, Crediton, Sidmouth, South Molton, Teignmouth, Ilfracombe, Tiverton and Uffculme.  There are a couple of different roles available that will be assigned to volunteers at the schools on the day. Volunteers will be supervised throughout.  A more detailed role description, a short training guide and application form can be accessed by clicking on the following link:  https://ourplymouth.co.uk/volunteer-opportunity/school-testing-volunteers/.
The application form allows you to choose the school nearest to you.

For Employers and Businesses
Help us shape a tool due to be used with over 1,000 young people in Devon, to help them prepare for applying to the world of work.  You’re Invited to the Employers’ Explore Focus Group.
To contribute to the development of Explore.  Explore is a tool that will help young people in Devon who are looking for work but are facing challenging personal circumstances.  These challenges may include prejudice against disability or neurodiversity (such as autism), difficult home lives, mental health issues, or low levels of education and work experience.  The Explore tool has been designed to draw out young people’s traditional skills (gained through education, for example), but also help them to reflect and showcase the skills they’ve gained by pursuing interests and overcoming challenges in their life.  Explore is intended to be accessible and unintimidating for young people, whilst strengthening their employability, application and interview skills.
During the session we will:
    Share the Explore tool with you and invite you to give feedback on its value from your perspective as an employer.
–    Seek to understand your expectations and perceptions of young people in the workplace.
–    Seek to understand how we can support and up skill you to better engage with young people who are seeking work. We plan to deliver free sessions in the future which aim to create workplace cultures that are more comfortable recruiting, employing and unlocking the potential of young people who are facing barriers into work.
When – Wednesday 24th March, 13.00-14.30
Where – On Zoom, of course! Please register here.  You will receive a Zoom link via email prior to the event.
More information – Explore is being developed by and for Experience Works (through Devon Communities Together).  Experience Works is a project delivered by a partnership of nine of Devon’s leading youth organisations, and managed by Petroc.  It seeks to support young people aged 15-24 in Devon who are NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training) towards a positive future.  The project is funded by the European Social Fund through the Department for Work and Pensions.  Experience Works will support over 1,000 young people in Devon over the next 2.5 years.  Through the course of the project we will also be seeking to build strong relationships with employers who can offer work experience, placements, trainings or full-term employment, and of course will keep you informed as the project develops.  Your attendance at this focus group does not commit you to any further involvement.

Do You And Your Business Need a Listening Ear? A Webinar
The Listening Ear project continues to support business owners in Devon, providing a friendly, impartial listening ear.  Alongside our one to one service we also have a new webinar coming up.  This Webinar brings together four speakers from Devon’s Hospitality and Tourism sector to reflect on the pandemic.  However it is not just about reflecting on survival through the ups and downs, but also on growth, diversification, taking time for well-being, and finding hope for the future.  Designed for Devon’s Hospitality and Tourism sector, this event will also be of interest to all within its supply chain or who rely upon Devon’s tourism.
Please share details of the event with those in your community for whom this is relevant.
Book your free place at the event.
And for further details about the Listening Ear Pilot Project or to book a 121 session – https://www.devoncommunities.org.uk/projects/listening-ear.

Devon Communities Together
Unit 73 & 74 Basepoint Business Centre,
Yeoford Way,
Exeter EX2 8LB
info@devoncommunities.org.uk


Support local businesses, help your community, stay safe

As many of us hit lockdown fatigue, with the stress of a global pandemic and the many restrictions it has placed on our lives, it is more important than ever to remember to take care of ourselves – and our communities.

A key element of helping our communities is supporting our local businesses, many of whom have faced in incredible pressures over the last 11 months. Local businesses make up over 90 percent of the UK’s private business sector, so it’s vital that we continue to consider them in the choices we are still free to make. We will need our local shops and high streets once the pandemic is over – and so we need to give them our custom and loyalty, even when we aren’t able to visit them in person.

Thank you to each and every person who has given their support to a North Devon business during lockdown. By continuing to Live Love Local throughout lockdown, we will make it through to the other side together.


Don’t forget about our Local Shopping Directory

To help our businesses show what they have on offer – and help our residents continue to shop locally at this difficult time – we are reminding you use our Local Shopping Directory.

Please think local before buying from big online corporates; use the directory and see what a North Devon business can offer you before paying a multinational company to give you the same (or a less special) product!

Many of our local businesses have online shops and click and collect services, so you can continue to shop locally while you’re staying safe at home.

Local businesses that would like to be added to the directory should contact us on our Facebook or Instagram page or email communications@northdevon.gov.uk.


Nominate a #LocalBusinessHero

We recently relaunched our #LocalBusinessHero campaign, which celebrates the efforts of some of the district’s business owners who have transformed or adapted their business in order to keep operating and help residents through the coronavirus pandemic.

Some of the businesses we have featured so far include:

If you know of a #LocalBusinessHero that deserves a shout out on the North Devon Council and Live Love Local social media pages, nominate them by dropping us a private message through social media, or emailing communications@northdevon.gov.uk.


Businesses – tag us on social media for a share!

Calling local businesses – give us a tag and get a share!  If you have a special offer, a new product, or you’d just like help in getting the word out about your business, use #livelovelocalnorthdevon or tag us @livelovelocalnorthdevon on your post on Facebook or Instagram.  We would love to help you promote your business at this difficult time.


Domestic Abuse Survey

The Domestic Abuse Commissioner, Nicole Jacobs, is currently undertaking a survey in the Devon area to find out survivors experiences of Domestic Abuse services.  The confidential survey is being run by Natcen and closes on Friday 25 February:  https://survey.natcen.ac.uk/DASU.


Latest Information on the Vaccination Programme in Devon – 16/2/2021

Please click here for PDF


Advice on contacting Police

Please click here for PDF


Remember – don’t fall for fake vaccine scams


Covid-19 grants 3rd wave now open for applications

COVID-19 grants have opened again for the third wave. Guidance is slightly amended and can be found on this link along with the online application form.
The biggest difference to the first two waves is that we are working in partnership with Devon Community Foundation to fund food projects.  So any project that is for food provision needs to apply here.


Explore from your door and tips for staying positive – Five ways to stay positive through lockdown

Get Moving
Getting outdoors for exercise can be difficult in winter, but pretty much all experts agree that it’s a great way to boost your mood. “Our minds and bodies are completely inseparable”, says Dr Brendon Stubbs, of King’s College London.
Exercise triggers the release of endorphins into the bloodstream, relieving pain and producing a feeling of well-being.  Research by Dr Stubbs has also shown that exercise also increases electrical activity in the emotional processing areas of the brain, particularly the hippocampus and the pre-frontal cortex.
“It’s vital to keep active to improve your mental health and stimulate your brain including those areas”, he says. “If you don’t exercise, the activity drops.” That’s one of the reasons why a lack of exercise increases your risk of anxiety and depression.
Exercise can also boost the production of a protein, BDNF, or brain derived neurotrophic factor, which is crucial for brain health.  “You can think of it as a kind of brain fertiliser – it helps parts of your brain regenerate,” says Dr Stubbs.  Even short periods of exercise – just 10 minutes – can help.  “Anything that leaves you slightly out of breath, like a brisk walk, or something like gardening, or a cycle ride, will do.”
How to exercise safely in the winter.

Stop over-thinking
Adopting helpful habits to stop you over-thinking is one of the best things you can do, says psychologist Prof Jennifer Wild of Oxford University. She calls it “getting out of your head.”  People often dwell on problems, going over and over the same negative thoughts, and Prof Wild has some simple suggestions to stop that happening.
“If you’ve been worrying about a problem for 30 minutes or more without coming up with a plan of action, or you’ve been going over questions with no answers, it’s time to stop”, she says.  The main thing is to shift your focus from worries to practical problem-solving. So stop and ask yourself what steps you can take to address the problem.  It’s not easy, of course, to stop yourself dwelling on problems.
Some recommend physical activity to help you shift mental gears. In any case, it takes some training.  It’s perfectly normal to worry, but many of our worries never materialise.  One study of patients with anxiety found only around one in 10 worries ever turn out to be real problems. One explanation is the way we have evolved.  It has made us highly tuned to negativity and danger, as a defence against threats which led to death or serious injury.  Danger is “over-encoded in our brains”, says Prof Wild. “You can make yourself feel much calmer if you recognise that you’re over-thinking, stop and focus on facts.”
How can I overcome my anxiety?

Set a new target
“Setting a new goal or target, can really help pull you through,” says Cardiff neuroscientist, Dr Dean Burnett.  That could be a big project like learning a language or something as small as trying out a new recipe.  If big ideas are too much, start small.
The point is that if it’s outside your comfort zone, and it’s pushing you forward, it gives you a focus and a sense of control.  For many people that’s hugely helpful for their mental state. “Novelty is fundamentally rewarding,” says Dr Burnett.  “Learning to do new things is frequently how we acquire self-worth”, he adds. “Goal-motivated behaviour is one of the most fundamental ways that we operate.”

Talk it over
Covid-19 has made it a lot harder to be with others in person, and winter can make it harder still.  That’s a big issue for millions of people and the mental health consequences for some will be serious.  So it’s a good idea to maximise the little social contact that is available.
“We’re not really designed to be on our own,” says Prof Emerita Elizabeth Kuipers, of King’s College London.  “We’re socially-oriented.  We feel better with social contact.”  Talking problems over when you can is a good idea, but the key thing is how it’s done, she says.
“Going over problems again and again, just rehearsing how terrible you feel, may not help at all.  Talking things through with someone who can help you reframe your problems, and help you move through them can be much more helpful.”
Isolated people are more likely to focus on themselves, says Prof Kuipers, and that can make things worse. So reach out when you can, and if Covid-19 means you can’t do that in person, make that phone call to a friend, or arrange to talk online.

‘Do it badly’
Optimists live longer, have better relationships and better immune systems, says Olivia Remes of Cambridge University.  And the good news is you can cultivate optimism: an inner sense that you can make a difference to your life, and that it’s not all down to things outside your control.  How? Her number one tip is the principle of “do it badly“.
In other words don’t wait to do things perfectly at the right time on the right day.  That’s even more important in winter when gloomy weather might make you think twice about doing something.
“Our inner voice of criticism continually stops us from doing worthwhile things”, she says.  “Jump straight into action.  Do things and accept that they might initially be done badly.  When you do that, most of the time the results are actually not that bad – and they’re almost always better than doing nothing.”
Olivia’s other tips include writing down three things each day that you’re grateful about, to force yourself to focus on what’s gone well and why.  It’ll fire up the left hand side of your brain which is associated with positivity.
“Emotions are contagious”, she says, so “if you can, gently steer away from negative, miserable people who are constantly complaining”, (including all the ones on Facebook) because you’ll find yourself becoming one of those people too.


Coronavirus update from North Devon Council
20th January 2021

Don’t fall for vaccine scams
Trading Standards is warning the public to be on their guard for fake texts offering a Covid-19 vaccine in an attempt to steal bank details.  The text offers a link to what police call an “extremely convincing” fake NHS website.  Once on the website people are asked to input their bank details to register for a vaccine.  The scam message reads; ‘we have identified that you are eligible to apply for your vaccine’ and then prompts you to click on a link for further information or to ‘apply’ for the vaccine.  If you receive a text or email that asks you to click on a link or for you to provide information, such as your name, credit card or bank details, delete it immediately.

Remember, the NHS will never ask for your payment details.

We have also been made aware of other text scams such as:
–  ‘DVLA: We have identified that you have an outstanding vehicle tax refund from an overpayment” and asks you to follow a link to process the refund.
–  ‘You have a pending tax refund £265.84 from HMRC.  To progress your application please complete your form’ and then provides a link for you to enter your bank details.  Always be wary of unsolicited texts or emails concerning money, and never give out your bank details until you have checked that you are giving them for a genuine reason to a legitimate person or business.

Over 70’s and clinically vulnerable to receive vaccines next
Millions of people aged 70 and over and those clinically extremely vulnerable to COVID-19 will be invited to get their vaccinations from Monday (18 January) as the NHS begins roll out of the vaccines to the next 2 priority groups.  The NHS has so far been working to vaccinate the first 2 priority cohorts which are care home residents and staff, and those aged 80 and over and frontline health and care staff.  Vaccinating the first 2 groups will remain the priority, but vaccination sites which have enough supply and capacity for vaccinating further people are allowed to offer vaccinations to the next 2 cohorts – those aged 70 and over and clinically extremely vulnerable people.
The NHS will let you know when it’s your turn to have the vaccine. It’s important not to contact the NHS for a vaccination before then.  Letters are being sent out every week – you might not get your letter straight away.

Police ask us to close our skateparks and BMX pump track
Government guidance says that outdoor sports facilities should close and that people should only be going out to exercise once a day in a household bubble or with one other person and it shouldn’t be for recreational activities or socialising.  Over the course of the Covid restrictions and lockdowns, we have continued to see large groups of people congregating at our skateparks in Barnstaple and Ilfracombe and at the pump track.  Clearly this indicates that people are mixing with lots of other households in close proximity to each other, heightening the risk of transmission of the virus.  The local police have become so concerned about the sheer numbers of people at these facilities that they have asked us to close them. Many other councils have made the same decision.

Nobody is banned from skateboarding or riding their bike but it should be done with members of your household or one other person and in areas where you are unlikely to come into contact with other groups of people.

We understand why users are disappointed but it is important to point out that these restrictions are being put in place to save lives and avoid pressurising our local hospital.  With 1 in 3 people asymptomatic, nobody knows if they are carrying the virus or not and so the safest thing is simply to stay away from other people not in your household bubble.  We encourage people to get out and about on their skateboards and bikes but in safe, wide, open spaces (of which there are endless numbers of them in North Devon), away from other people other than those in their own bubble.

Help and support for the most vulnerable in our community
Unlike the first national lockdown, the government are not sending out food parcels to the clinically vulnerable, in the first instance though, people are being asked to be self sufficient and seek help from family, friends and neighbours as resources are stretched and there is only capacity to support people with no other means of getting help.
Working alongside local community support organisation One Northern Devon and town and parish councils, NDC is helping to co-ordinate a range of services for those most in need. This includes:
–  helping people to register on the government website
–  help with grocery orders and deliveries
–  collection and delivery of medication
–  transport to medical and hospital appointments using local taxi firm Driving Miss Daisy
–  financial support for those in serious hardship
–  friendly ear phonecalls to ease social isolation

To help people access these services, there is a dedicated phoneline and webform and the council is urging people to ensure that their vulnerable and elderly friends and relatives are aware how to contact the team. The number to call is 01271 388280 and the online form is at my.northdevon.gov.uk/service/Request for_assistance.
The council is also urging people to ensure they don’t leave requests until the last minute and to give them at least two working days’ notice because the service relies on volunteers and so cannot react any more quickly than that.

Where to find coronavirus data
For up to date information on cases across Devon, visit the Devon County Council Coronavirus dashboard:  DCC Covid Dashboard.

Support for veterans
If you are a, or know of a, veteran who is isolating or struggling and needs support, the Veterans Charity, based in Barnstaple, can assist with immediate needs for support for things such as:
–  Food shopping
–  Clothing
–  Utility meter credit
–  Mobile phone credit
Veterans Charity website

Barnstaple Library re-open for lifeline services
Lifeline library services have recently reopened at Barnstaple Library.  They are on offer by appointment only and customers will need to get in touch with them via phone/email in order to book. 01271 318780 or email: barnstaple.library@librariesunlimited.org.uk.  The lifeline library services are COVID secure and contactless.  You’re encouraged to book at a time when you’re leaving your home for other essential reasons such as collecting your shopping or taking exercise to avoid unnecessary trips out.

Business grants
We’ve now received the guidance and funding from the government for the periods of 31 December – 4 January (Tier 3) and 5 January onwards (National Lockdown) and are working on the new application form which will cover both grants and will be paid in one payment.

NDC and police join forces to step up Covid enforcement
With the worst wave of coronavirus yet to hit the area, North Devon Council is teaming up with local police officers to step up enforcement of Covid-19 breaches.  The government is urging local authorities and police forces to use the powers available to crack down on those people who are not social distancing, travelling unnecessarily or continuing to run a business that should be closed.  The four strand approach involves:
–  acting on reports of breaches of regulations and virus outbreaks
–  using intelligence to identify potential breaches such as the advertising of holiday lets
–  inspections of high risk places such as supermarkets, offices and showrooms
–  checks on temporary accommodation to ensure vulnerable people are being accommodated safely

The police will accompany council officers on inspections of holiday homes and extra NDC staff are being diverted into the authority’s Covid enforcement team.  The council is also working closely with the Health and Safety Executive’s Spot Check initiative and 340 local businesses have already been approached to check they are Covid-secure.

Other sources of advice and information

Avoid misinformation on Coronavirus – only follow advice from official, trusted sources.
Devon County Council
GOV.UK
NHS England
Public Health England