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Rapid coronavirus tests now available across Devon, confidential advice and support via ChatHealth and Exeter Chiefs’ Ollie Devoto helps bring a smile to young carers

His Royal Highness, Duke of Edinburgh, 10 June 1921 - 9 April 2021

Tributes to His Royal Highness, The Duke of Edinburgh

Earlier today Buckingham Palace announced that His Royal Highness Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh passed away peacefully at Windsor Castle.

The Lord-Lieutenant of Devon, David Fursdon and the Chairman of Devon County Council, Councillor Stuart Barker, have conveyed their condolences on behalf of the County of Devon. You can read or watch their tributes on our News Centre.

Arrangements being made throughout Devon will be shared on the website of Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Devon. 

Government COVID-19 guidelines mean physical books of condolence are unable to be opened in public places at this time, but residents wishing to express their condolences are encouraged to send a message to the Royal Family via the online Book of Condolence on the Royal website.

While people may want to gather to lay flowers and pay their respects, please be mindful of the current coronavirus restrictions and consider safer alternatives, such as making a donation to charity.

88 COVID-19 cases in Devon 28 March to 3 April 2021

Cases of coronavirus have continued to fall in Devon and remain below the national average. Rates are currently slightly higher in Mid Devon, and across the county they are highest in those aged 20 to 39 years old.

In this update:

  • Rapid coronavirus tests now available across Devon 
  • Further easing of restrictions on Monday 12 April
  • Face coverings in secondary schools and colleges to remain in place 
  • Care home residents can have two named visitors
  • Confidential advice and support via ChatHealth
  • Don’t be a selfish parker

Further easing of restrictions on Monday 12 April

Earlier this week the government agreed that the next phase of easing the COVID-19 restrictions will go ahead as per their roadmap. That means from Monday 12 April, we will be able to do a little bit more

  • Non-essential retail can open, including personal care premises such as hairdressers, beauty and nail salons.
  • Hospitality venues will be able to open for outdoor table-service, with no requirement for a substantial meal to be served alongside alcohol, and no curfew, but you’ll still need to remain seated. 
  • Indoor leisure and sports facilities can reopen for individual exercise, or exercise with your household or support bubble.
  • Overnight stays away from home in England will be permitted and self-contained accommodation can also reopen so long as they are used by members of the same household or support bubble.
  • Public buildings, such as libraries and community centres can reopen. 
  • Most outdoor attractions including zoos, theme parks, and drive-in performances (such as cinemas and concerts) can reopen and some smaller outdoor events such as fetes, literary fairs, and fairgrounds will be able to take place.
  • Care home residents will be able to nominate two named individuals for regular indoor visits.
  • All children will be able to attend any indoor children’s activity, including sport, regardless of circumstance.
  • Parent and child groups of up to 15 people (not counting children aged under five years old) can restart indoors. 
  • Funerals can continue with up to 30 attendees. Weddings, outdoor receptions, and commemorative events will be able to take place with up to 15 attendees (in premises that are permitted to open). 
  • People should continue to work from home where they can and minimise domestic travel. International holidays are still illegal.

Steve Brown, Director of Public Health Devon said:

“With restrictions lifting, it is important that we continue to do all we can to control the coronavirus and keep the case levels low in Devon.

“So please be sensible and remember to continue with the hands, face, space and fresh air.

“Remember that social distancing rules still apply, as does the wearing of face coverings indoors in public places. 

“And while up to six people or two households of any size can meet, they can still only do so outside for now, so you must not socialise indoors with anyone you do not live with, or who is not in a support bubble with you.”

get a rapid flow test

Rapid coronavirus tests now available across Devon 

Every adult in Devon is now being encouraged to take a quick COVID-19 test twice a week to help stop the virus spreading.

These type of tests, known as rapid lateral flow device (LFD) tests, are for people who don’t show any symptoms of having coronavirus. One in three people with coronavirus do not experience any symptoms and may be spreading the virus unwittingly. Rapid testing detects cases quickly, meaning positive cases can isolate immediately. They are easy, quick and convenient, and the results are usually available to you within the hour. 

There are lots of ways that you can get one of these tests in Devon, including:

Businesses can order them too, for their employees, and carers, personal assistants and frontline social care staff can order and collect testing kits at the same time as their PPE supplies. 

If the test is negative, you can carry on with your day while still following the public health guidance about social distancing and wearing face coverings. 

If the test is positive, you need to self-isolate immediately and arrange a confirmatory PCR test via the NHS. 

Remember, these rapid lateral flow tests are to be taken regularly if you do not have any symptoms of coronavirus. If you do develop and symptoms, you should immediately self-isolate and arrange a PCR test via the NHS.

pupil with facemask

Face coverings in secondary schools and colleges to remain in place 

The government has confirmed that face coverings should continue to be worn in secondary school and college classrooms when students return after the Easter break. 

It is expected that face coverings will no longer be required to be worn in classrooms, or by students in other communal areas, at Step 3 of the roadmap, which will be no earlier than Monday 17 May. 

Those who are currently exempt from wearing face coverings, including pupils or staff who are speaking to or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip reading, clear sound or facial expression to communicate, will remain so. 

holding hands in a lap

Care home residents can have two named visitors

From Monday 12 April, care home residents can name up to two people who can come for regular indoor visits, either together or separately. 

Welcoming anyone into care homes inevitably brings risk of COVID-19 transmission. However, these risks can be managed and should be balanced against the importance of visiting and the benefits it brings to care home residents and their families.

Visitors should be tested using rapid lateral flow tests before every visit, must wear the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and follow all other infection control measures (which the care home will guide them on) during visits.

Visitors and residents are advised to keep physical contact to a minimum, for example they may want to hold hands, but closer contact such as hugging increases the risk of transmission.

It is not a condition of visiting that the visitor or the resident should have been vaccinated. However, it is strongly recommended that all visitors and residents take up the opportunity to be vaccinated when they are invited to do so through the national programme.

Care homes can also continue to offer visits to other friends or family members through arrangements such as outdoor visiting, rooms with substantial screens, visiting pods, or from behind windows

Each care home is unique and will have developed suitable plans and processes to protect residents, visitors and staff, so please speak to them directly to find out more about visiting your loved ones safely. 


Confidential advice and support via ChatHealth

We know that during these unsettling times parents, carers and young people may be worried about their health and wellbeing and unsure about how they can get the help they need.

Our local school nurses and health visitors are on hand with advice and support via a free and confidential text chat service called ChatHealth.

If you have a young person aged 11-19 years old in your household, please let them know they can talk to a Devon school nurse in confidence about a range of things including COVID-19, emotional health, relationships, bullying, self-harm, healthy eating, smoking, drugs, or any other concerns by texting 07520 631 722 between 9.00am and 5.00pm Monday to Friday including during the school holidays.

ChatHealth is also available for parents and carers in Devon who have concerns about a child in their care or family health worries. Our health visitors can be contacted for confidential advice and support on mental health, child health and development, adjusting to parenting, sleep and feeding routines and family health by texting 07520 631 721 between 9.00am and 5.00pm Monday to Friday (excluding Bank Holidays)

Both services aim to reply to all messages within one working day and you should get an immediate response to confirm your text has been received. Texts will not be seen outside of normal working hours so if you, or someone you know, needs help before you hear back from the team, contact your GP, NHS 111 or dial 999 if it is an emergency.

Library interior

Libraries open for browsing from Monday 12 April 

Devon’s libraries are continuing to provide books and other resources, but from Monday 12 April, they will be able to offer more. 

  • Book browsing will be available in most libraries, and there will be free access to use library computers, bookable in advance. The exception to this will be at Salcombe library. Buckfastleigh, Chulmleigh and Bideford libraries will be offering Choose and Collect only at this time.
  • Mobile libraries will be back on the road, offering book browsing for one household at a time. 
  • The Home Library service will continue to run as normal.
  • And there will be an outdoor cafe and takeaway service at Exeter Library and The Hayridge in Cullompton. 

Libraries will maintain the two metre social distancing rule and hand sanitisation stations will be available. The number of customers allowed into the buildings will be limited and one-way systems to help the safe flow of customers through the libraries will be in place. 

For more information and opening times visit the Libraries Unlimited website.  

Don't be a selfish parker

Don’t be a selfish parker

With coronavirus restrictions easing we are now able to venture further from home and enjoy more of Devon’s beautiful beaches and countryside.

As popular beauty spots get busier, selfish and anti-social parking becomes a major frustration for many residents, so drivers are being asked to be kind and respect each other and make sure they park responsibly.

This includes not leaving vehicles obstructing pavements or blocking driveways, taking up more than one space or using designated bays they are not eligible to use. Most importantly drivers should be careful not to block access for emergency vehicles.

Our civil enforcement officers work hard to keep our roads and streets clear and safe for everyone to use. They ensure that local roads are kept clear so traffic can flow,  ensure that on-street parking is not abused so there’s space to park and that communities are not blighted by illegal parking. 

man standing at laptop

Recovery Loan Scheme launches

A new government-backed loan scheme has launched to provide additional finance to businesses as they grow and recover from the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Recovery Loan Scheme will provide businesses with loans from £25,000 up to a maximum of £10 million. The government will provide an 80% guarantee for all loans and interest rates will be capped.

The scheme, which runs until 31 December 2021, will be administered by the British Business Bank, with loans available through accredited commercial lenders.

You can find out more, including how to apply, on the government’s website.


Watch out… ticks about!

Now that coronavirus restrictions are easing and we can spent more time outdoors, it’s important to remember to be aware of ticks and the associated risk of Lyme Disease.

Ticks are small, spider like creatures that feed on the blood of animals, including
people. They can vary in size, from as small as a tiny freckle to a similar size to a baked bean and are frequently found in moist areas with leaf litter or in longer grass like in woodland, glassland, moorland, healthlands and some urban parks and gardens. 

Most tick bites are harmless, but some do carry Lyme Disease, so it’s important to make sure you look and feel for ticks on you, your family and your pets after you’ve enjoyed outdoor activities and remove them promptly as evidence suggests the risk increases the longer a tick is feeding. 

You can try and prevent being bitten by ticks by walking on clearly defined paths, using insect repellent that repels ticks and by wearing light colour clothing so ticks are easier to spot on you. And if you have been bitten, look out for early signs of Lyme Disease, which include mild-flu like symptoms including a fever, headache, fatigue and a bulls-eye rash. 

If you feel unwell after being bitten by a tick, even when you don’t have a rash contact your GP or dial NHS 111 and remember to tell them you were bitten by a tick or have recently spent time outdoors. 

There’s lots of useful information, including the best way to remove ticks, in this leaflet from Public Health England.

Exeter Chiefs Ollie Devoto with young carers

Exeter Chiefs’ Ollie Devoto helps bring a smile to young carers 

Exeter Chiefs’ star Ollie Devoto is a Devon Young Carers Ambassador. He’s currently hosting an online charity auction, giving sports fans chance to bid on a range of rare memorabilia, including signed players’ jerseys, boots and kit bundles. 

The online auction runs until Sunday 18 April, and the proceeds go to Devon Young Carers, a charity who we work with, that provides support to young people who care for others. For information about the online auction, visit their website

Ollie also surprised three rugby-loving young carers recently with deliveries of food boxes and family meals. His visit was caught on film, and their reaction is lovely.   

“I’m just so happy, I met my hero today,” said one young carer.  “I never thought that would happen to me.” 

Lets take this next step safely

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.