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CORONAVIRUS INFORMATION

Roadmap out of lockdown met with cautious welcome

COVID-19 Roadmap Spring 2021

Roadmap met with cautious welcome

The Prime Minister has announced a 4-step plan to ease lockdown in England.

The news has been met with a cautious welcome by Steve Brown, Devon’s Director of Public Health. He said:

“While all of us look forward to a relaxation of the national regulations, it’s vital that we continue to exercise caution.

“COVID-19 is an extremely infectious virus, and is still very much present in the community. Cases in Devon have remained relatively low compared to elsewhere in the country and we do not want to see cases rising again.

“As restrictions start to ease, we must therefore remain absolutely resolute in adhering to the national public health measures – keeping our distance from those outside of our household or support bubble, wearing face coverings whenever indoors in a public place, and washing our hands regularly.”

You can read more about what our Leader and Cabinet Member responsible for schools said about the government’s roadmap out of lockdown on our News Centre.


What’s the plan?

The government’s roadmap, which has been published in full on their website, outlines four steps for easing restrictions. MPs will vote on it in late March.

All the changes will be England-wide with no return to regional tiers. The only exception could be localised efforts if a new variant of the virus is detected, for example additional testing.

Although there are dates given for each step, the government has warned that they are subject to change as the plan will be guided by data rather than dates, so some stages of reopening could be delayed.

Before proceeding to the next step, the government will examine the latest data to assess the impact of previous steps. This is why there is a minimum of five weeks between each step – four weeks to collect and assess data and then a week for people and businesses to prepare for the next step.

The decision to move to the next step will be assessed against four tests:

  • The vaccine deployment programme continues successfully.
  • Evidence shows vaccines are sufficiently effective in reducing hospitalisations and deaths in those vaccinated.
  • Infection rates do not risk a surge in hospitalisations which would put unsustainable pressure on the NHS.
  • The government’s assessment of the risks is not fundamentally changed by new COVID-19 variants of concern.
school children with hands up

Step one, part one – Monday 8 March

  • Schools open for everyone  all primary and secondary school pupils and college students will return to face-to-face teaching, with before and after-school clubs reopening.

    Secondary school pupils and college students will receive twice-weekly COVID-19 testing and wear masks in class. 

    Higher Education students at English universities on practical courses can also return.
  • Outdoor recreation – people can meet one other person from outside their household or support bubble for outdoor recreation such as a coffee or picnic on a park bench, in addition to exercise. (Children count towards this).

    However, people identified as being ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ are advised to continue shielding until the end of March. 
  • Care home visitors – care home residents will be able to nominate a named visitor who can see them regularly provided they are tested and wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

Everyone should still stay at home as much as possible. 

two women meeting sat on benches

Step one, part two – Monday 29 March

  • Outdoor gatherings – evidence shows that it is safer for people to meet outdoors rather than indoors, so from 29 March, when most schools start to break up for the Easter holidays, outdoor gatherings (including in private gardens) of either up to six people or two households, socially distanced, will be allowed.
  • Outdoor sports – outdoor sports facilities such as tennis and basketball courts, and open-air swimming pools, can reopen, and people will be able to take part in formally organised outdoor sports.

The ‘stay at home’ order will end on 29 March but many restrictions will remain in place.

Travel outside the local area is allowed, but people are encouraged not to go too far.

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.

hair cut

Step two – no earlier than Monday 12 April

  • Non-essential retail – non-essential shops and personal care premises such as hairdressers and nail salons can reopen.
  • Outdoor hospitality – pubs and restaurants can reopen outdoor tables and beer gardens for households and groups of up to six people. Customers will have to be seated but there will be no need to have a meal with alcohol and no curfew.
  • Indoor leisure facilities – gyms and swimming pools will reopen, but only for people to use alone or with members of their household.
  • Outdoor attractions – places like zoos and theme parks will reopen with social distancing rules and limits on outdoor mixing.
  • Holidays – self-contained holiday accommodation (including campsites), where indoor facilities are not shared with others can reopen for individuals and household groups only.
  • Public buildings – libraries and community centres can reopen with social distancing measures and no indoor mixing between households.
  • Life events – up to 15 people can attend weddings, receptions and commemorative events such as wakes.
restaurant

Step three – no earlier than Monday 17 May

  • Outdoor gatherings – most legal restrictions on meeting others outdoors will be lifted, although gatherings of over 30 people will remain illegal.
  • Meeting indoors – the rule of six or two households will apply indoors, both in public places and at home.
  • Hugging – the government will update the advice on social distancing between friends and family, including hugging. But until this point, people should continue to keep their distance from anyone not in their household or support bubble.
  • Indoor hospitality – pubs and restaurants will reopen their indoor areas. They will not have to serve a substantial meal with alcoholic drinks, nor will there be a curfew, but customers will have to order, eat and drink while seated.
  • Indoor entertainment – venues such as cinemas and children’s play areas can reopen.
  • Holidays – the rest of the accommodation sector, including hotels, hostels and B&Bs can open.
  • Life events – up to 30 people can attend weddings, receptions, funerals, wakes and other life events such as bar mitzvahs and christenings.
  • Exercise – indoor adult group sports and exercise classes can take place.
  • Businesses reopen – most businesses in all but the highest risk sectors will be able to reopen. In all sectors, COVID-Secure guidance will remain in place and businesses may not cater for groups bigger than the legal limits. (30 outside and rule of six or two households inside)
  • Large organised events – sporting events, concerts, theatres and conferences can go ahead with capacity limits.
hug grandma

Step four – no earlier than Monday 21 June

  • Social contact – the government hopes to be in a position to remove all legal limits on social contact.
  • Businesses – remaining businesses such as nightclubs can reopen.
  • Life events – legal limits on the number of people attending life events such as weddings and funerals are lifted.
  • Large events – restrictions on large events and performances eased.
  • Holidays – international travel permitted.
rainbow over beach

For now…

As we move through each of these phases in the roadmap, we must all remember that COVID-19 remains a part of our lives.

For the time being, we are going to have to keep living our lives differently to keep ourselves and others safe.

For now…we must:

  • Carry on with ‘hands, face, space’.
  • Comply with the current lockdown restrictions.
  • Get tested when needed.
  • Get vaccinated when offered.

If we all continue to play our part, we will be that bit closer to a future that is more familiar. Carry on carrying on, and do it for Devon!

stay home, protect the NHS, save lives

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.

All mapped out!

There’s a lot going on in Devon right now by way of coronavirus vaccination and testing centres, so Devon County Council and NHS Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) have created a map to show you what’s happening where.

The information is pulled together from various places, and includes hospital vaccination hubs, local vaccination centres, temporary GP vaccination clinics, large scale vaccination centres, and pharmacy vaccination sites.

You can also find your nearest community testing sites, NHS mobile testing units, NHS local testing sites and NHS regional testing sites.

👉 https://tinyurl.com/y956zfxv

Devon’s case number highest among 20 to 39 year olds, more cash for Devon’s most vulnerable and mobile testing units hit the road soon

No everyone with COVID-19 has symptoms, act like you've got it

In this update:

  • More cash for Devon’s most vulnerable
  • Devon’s COVID-19 cases highest among 20 to 39 year olds
  • New testing and vaccination centre map
  • Mobile testing units to be on the road soon
  • NHS vaccination programme enters a new phase
  • Community testing in Barnstaple
  • Thousands added to Devon’s list of clinically vulnerable
  • Beware of COVID-19 vaccination scams
  • Coronavirus home testing kits now easier to order
Elderly lady smiling at a picture on a phone with carer in mask stood next to her

More cash for vulnerable adults and children, health

This week we set our budget for the next financial year, with more money for those who have been most badly effected by the coronavirus pandemic.

We want to support the most disadvantaged and some 73 per cent of the budget spend is on the most vulnerable.

More than £37 million extra will be pumped into vital services with an additional £21.7 million for adult care and health and £11.4 million more for children’s services.

We’ve not only been thinking about the short-term pandemic but the longer term issues as well, in addition to how we are going to lead the economic recovery in Devon.

There will be £600,000 extra to tackle the county’s potholes and road drainage and a £600,000 hardship fund for residents who have been hard hit economically by the pandemic.

In total our spending will be almost £580 million in 2021/22.

You can read the full story on our News Centre. 

391 confirmed covid-19 cases in Devon 7 - 13 February

Devon’s cases highest among 20 to 39 year olds

Devon’s Director of Public Health, Steve Brown, focuses his message this week on the county’s younger working age population – the 20 to 39 year olds.

Cases of COVID-19 are generally continuing to fall across Devon, but that decline has slowed and we are seeing a levelling off of numbers.

Rates are currently highest among the 20 to 39 year old age group.

“We’re seeing the larger proportion of people testing positive in that younger working age group,” says Steve Brown.

“So I want to remind people not to be complacent. Not just when you’re in work, but also travelling to and from work.”

You can listen to Steve Brown’s message this week on our YouTube channel.

COVID-19 rapid testing kit

Community testing available in Barnstaple 

We’ve opened another community testing centre. This one’s in Barnstaple, in the car park at Taw View, Civic Centre,

Community testing centres offer the rapid ‘lateral flow’ tests for coronavirus that give results within the hour. They’re for people who have to leave the house to work or volunteer, and whose role brings them face-to-face with others.

People who are out and about and seeing others regularly because of their work are encouraged to take these rapid tests twice a week. It’s to help identify whether a person is likely to be carrying coronavirus, which sounds obvious, but only one in three people with the virus has symptoms and therefore might not know they have it and be spreading it without realising. 

If they test positive, they’ll need to self-isolate for ten days and let NHS Test and Trace know who they have been in contact with. If they test negative, they can continue their day while adhering to social distancing, wearing face coverings and washing their hands regularly.

More of these testing centres are planned over coming weeks at locations across the county.

Map of coronavirus test and vaccination sites in Devon

We’ve got it all mapped out!

There’s a lot going on in Devon right now by way of coronavirus vaccination and testing centres, so we and NHS Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) have created a map to show you what’s happening where.

The information is pulled together from various places, and includes hospital vaccination hubs, local vaccination centres, temporary GP vaccination clinics, large scale vaccination centres, and pharmacy vaccination sites. 

You can also find your nearest community testing sites, NHS mobile testing units, NHS local testing sites and NHS regional testing sites. 

Visit our website to see the map and click on the individual icons to find out where something is. We’ll keep this map up to date as more locations are added. 

The NHS will let you know when it's your turn to be vaccinated

NHS vaccination programme enters a new phase

The latest data published by the NHS shows 342,397 people in Devon received a first vaccine dose between 8 December and 14 February. 

And from this week, tens of thousands more people across the county are being contacted inviting them to make an appointment for their first coronavirus vaccination, as the programme enters a new phase.

People aged 65 years old and over and those who are clinically vulnerable are now in line to receive the life-saving jab. Unpaid carers will also be offered the chance to get vaccinated if they meet the national criteria set out by the Joint Committee for Vaccinations and Immunisations.

This next phase includes a large group of people so GP practices are urging their patients in this group not to contact them about an appointment. GP practices hold data about each of their patients who fall into these groups and will contact them directly to arrange an appointment.

People aged 65 and over can book a vaccination at one of the vaccination centres
using the national booking service and can choose from large scale vaccination centres or selected local pharmacy services. Anyone unable to book online can call 119 free, anytime between 7.00am and 11.00pm, seven days a week. For people who are unable to travel to a large site, or who would prefer to be vaccinated by their local GP, they don’t need to do anything – their practice will contact them directly to arrange an appointment.

Mobile testing unit at Middlemoor Exeter

Mobile testing units to be on the road soon

To enable us to get community testing to more areas in Devon, we’re using mobile testing units, which will be on the roads very soon.

We’ve trialled one of the mobile units today (Friday 19 February), with Devon and Cornwall Police at Middlemoor, Exeter.

It’s gone really well. Along with the fixed community testing centres, our mobile units will enable us to test the public in areas of Devon with the highest rates of coronavirus.

We plan to use the mobile units in Honiton, Exmouth, Axminster, Okehampton, Tavistock and Ivybridge, over coming weeks.

“These new mobile test centres will help us to offer more rapid COVID-19 tests in more locations to those who need it,” said Steve Brown, Director of Public Health Devon.

man inside looking out of window

Thousands added to Devon’s list of clinically vulnerable

The government is advising an extra 1.7 million people in the UK that they need to shield from coronavirus because they’re considered to be clinically extremely vulnerable. They’ll be contacted by letter over the next few days, and their GPs are asked to prioritise them urgently for vaccination if they haven’t already had one. 

The NHS looked at data about people who have been really ill or died because of coronavirus and identified new groups at risk of becoming seriously ill if they catch it. Extra factors, in addition to just health, included ethnicity, deprivation (by postcode), and people’s weight.

Previously, around 32,500 people in Devon (excluding Plymouth and Torbay), were categorised as clinically extremely vulnerable – and these residents were being advised to shield until 31 March 2021. Now an extra 5,700 people, under the age of 70, have been added to that list, and a further tranche of over-70s, who were not on the previous list, is expected to be announced soon. 

They’ll be invited to register on the National Shielding Support System as those identified as clinically extremely vulnerable are entitled to ask for extra support if they need it. The new information will be given to local councils who’ll work with those people to determine what, if any, additional support they need.

temporary measures Queen Street Exeter

Temporary layout in Queen Street, Exeter

Temporary changes have been introduced to the road layout in Queen Street in Exeter. We’ve done it to encourage safe walking and cycling during the coronavirus pandemic as part of the government’s Active Travel Fund initiative.

The revised layout provides more space for pedestrians on the narrowest section, enabling social distancing to take place in one of the highest areas of footfall in the city. 

The temporary scheme was initially planned to coincide with the start of the academic year in January, but was deferred following the announcement of the current national lockdown. Although schools are not expected to return until next month, the new layout has been introduced while traffic levels are lower to give people chance to get used to the changes before students return to Exeter College and travel demand increases.

covid-19 rapid testing

Businesses can arrange their own testing programme

Testing is key to breaking the chain of coronavirus transmission, especially as around one in three people who have the virus don’t display any symptoms and may be unknowingly spreading it.

People who leave their homes to go to work or volunteer, and who are therefore in direct contact with other members of the public, are encouraged to have the quick ‘lateral flow’ coronavirus test (which provides a result within the hour) twice a week. 

Lots of workers are using our community testing centres, but some larger employers are making their own testing arrangements for their employees. The government is encouraging businesses that employ 50 or more people who cannot work from home, to take up the offer of rapid work place testing to help detect coronavirus in people who are not showing symptoms so they can self-isolate and help stop the spread.

An online portal has been launched to make it even easier for business to get involved and find out more about offering rapid testing in the workplace. All those who can work from home should continue to do so.

farmer standing in a field of crops looking at the sky

Extra support for farmers and other businesses

If you work in the farming industry there is still time to sign up to the latest free online mental health seminar being hosted by our trading standards service.

The next online webinar will be held on Tuesday 23 February at 6.00pm and will include speakers from the Gay Farmer Helpline, an accredited CBT therapist, Market Chaplin, Farming Community Network and Kingsbridge Young Farmers. Previous seminars aimed at the farming community are available on our website.

It follows the Farming Community Network (FCN) reporting that nearly half of all calls made to their helpline between July and October last year were related to mental health and 56 per cent of all calls last April related to COVID-19. 

Looking wider than the farming industry, extra support for businesses generally is available through the ‘Listening Ear’ service. We’ve developed it with the charity Devon Communities Together to provide small businesses with an experienced, impartial person to talk to about their general stresses and concerns caused by the struggle of running a business during the pandemic.  

If you would like to find out more about talking to our experienced Listening Ear volunteers, and book your session please visit the Devon Communities Together website, or contact info@devoncommunities.org.uk or call 01392 248919.

how will you vote at the elections in May?

Voting safely at the elections

On Thursday 6 May 2021, residents in Devon will go to the polls to have their say on who represents them in the Devon County Council elections and the Police and Crime Commissioner elections. There are also casual elections in some parishes and towns.

While the elections are not until May, plans are already being made to help you stay safe while casting your vote.  

There are a number of ways to have your say in the elections in May – you can vote in a polling station, by post, or by appointing someone you trust to vote on your behalf, which is known as a proxy vote.

If you would like to vote by post, now is the time to register using the Electoral Commission website.

vaccine fact check

Beware of COVID-19 vaccination scams

Unscrupulous criminals are exploiting fears about COVID-19 to prey on Devon residents, particularly older and vulnerable people who are isolated from family and friends.

There have been reports of scammers calling to offer vaccination appointments at a cost or sending a text or email that directs the recipient to a convincing fake NHS website with a booking link.

Please remember that the COVID-19 vaccine is only available through the NHS and will be delivered free of charge for everyone either through your GP or a large vaccination centre. You can find out more about how you will be contacted about your vaccination when it’s your turn, on the NHS website

  • The NHS will never ask you for your bank account or card details.
  • The NHS will never ask you for your PIN or banking password.
  • The NHS will never arrive unannounced at your home to administer the vaccine.
  • The NHS will never ask you to prove your identity by sending copies of personal documents such as your passport, driving licence, bills or pay slips. 

If you receive a call you believe to be fraudulent, hang up. If you are suspicious about an email you have received, forward it to report@phishing.gov.uk. Suspicious text messages should be forwarded to the number 7726 which is free of charge.

If you believe you have been the victim of fraud you should report this directly to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.

COVID-19 home testing kit

Coronavirus home testing kits now easier to order

For those with sight loss, it can be challenging to understand and follow the procedure for COVID-19 self-testing without some help. So the government has introduced a number of new accessibility improvements to the home testing programme to make it easier to get tested.

NHS Test and Trace has been working in partnership with the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) to improve the home testing service for people with visual impairments, including an information line you can call to hear a recorded version of the instructions and a live video assistance service.

People who do not have access to the internet can now order home testing kits over the phone by calling 119, without needing an email address or any other digital requirement. 

You can read the full story on the government’s website.

stay home, protect the NHS, save lives

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.

Statement for Mayfair and Carnival 2021

It is with careful consideration and deep regret that, in light of recent increased cases of Covid-19 and uncertainty for future months with regards to the pandemic, we feel we have no option but to cancel Mayfair and Carnival for 2021. Again, this was a huge decision from the committee and was not made lightly. In this case, safety had to come first and so too does the education and well being of our young people and staff at our schools.

This decision has been made in conjunction with the school, whom we have closely liaised with over the last few weeks.

Clearly we hope that we will be meeting again in 2022 to be able to return to our normal celebrations.

From my position as Mayor, I am very sad to not have been able to experience Mayfair in this capacity, as I know how important this event is to the community of Great Torrington. However, we have all come together and I know our tradition will continue for many years.

Keeley Allin – Chair of the Mayfair and Carnival Committee

Covid-19 Business Support

The Government have listed a comprehensive list of funding here https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus/business-support and it is a good idea to use these as source documents as they are constantly being updated and added to. There is also a handy self-help tool that will guide you to the most appropriate help available following answers to a few questions see https://www.gov.uk/business-coronavirus-support-finder

Our partner North Devon+ also have a Covid-19 support page here https://northdevonplus.co.uk/covid-19-support/

Grants distributed by Torridge District Council can be found here https://www.torridge.gov.uk/coronavirus

There are two types of grants available at the moment, the first being the Local Restrictions Support Grant (LRSG) and the second being the Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) and different businesses will be eligible for each one.

The LRSG is available to certain businesses and venues which appear in the rating list and have been be required to close from 5 November to 2 December 2020. For eligible businesses, the amount of LRSG payable is as follows:

  • Businesses occupying properties with a rateable value of £15,000, the grant payment will be £1,334 per 28-day qualifying restriction period
  • Businesses occupying properties with a rateable value of between £15,001 – £50,999, the grant payment will be £2,000 per 28-day qualifying restriction period
  • Businesses occupying properties with a rateable value of £51,000 the grant payment will be £3,000 per 28-day qualifying restriction period

The ARG is available to:

  • Businesses which – while not legally forced to close – are severely impacted by the restrictions put in place to control the spread of Covid-19.
  • Businesses outside the business rates system, which are forced to close.
  • Larger local businesses which are important to the local economy, that feel they would benefit from additional grant money on top of the funding provided to those businesses via the LRSG scheme (State Aid rules apply).

If businesses have further business related queries they can email North Devon+ info@northdevonplus.co.uk

Talkworks – NHS free, confidential psychological therapies service

The global COVID-19 outbreak we are currently living through has caused unprecedented times of change and uncertainty for us all. As a result, many people are experiencing concerns and worries for the future. For those that already experience stress and anxiety, the pandemic is likely to be creating further worries and triggering symptoms. For those that may have not experienced anxiety issues in the past, the widespread impact of the outbreak could be causing symptoms of anxiety or panic for the first time, particularly if they have friends and family that are vulnerable to the virus or those that have been affected by losing work or employment. Many vulnerable people have been particularly affected by the pandemic, it is not unusual to feel stressed, confused and isolated during a crisis. We are now beginning to see the impact of the pandemic on people’s mental wellbeing, and it is so important to ensure people are aware of the TALKWORKS service.

TALKWORKS is the NHS free, confidential psychological therapies service. We are open to all referrals offering initial assessment appointments and follow up sessions on the telephone or through digital platforms.

  • People can easily self-refer by phone or online at our website
  • We are increasing access for people aged 18+ experiencing mild to moderate symptoms of stress, sleep problems, low mood or anxiety (including phobias)
  • We are particularly keen to increase access from perinatal parents, people living in rural areas, older people, and serving or ex-members of the armed forces
  • We also see people whose long term health physical health condition is impacting their mood, or vice versa

Please see leaflets below for more information:-