Devon ‘in good position’ to reopen on July 4 and kick-start £2bn tourism economy

Devon is ‘in a good position’ to welcome back visitors from July 4 and kick-start its £2billion tourism economy.

The date has been earmarked by Prime Minister Boris Johnson for the further relaxation of lockdown rules – provided a low trend in Covid-19 cases continues.

Devon County Council (DCC) is one of 11 ‘beacon’ authorities in England which will be leading the future local management of Covid-19 in partnership with the Government.

Its leader John Hart said: “All the evidence from our public health experts shows that, because we were able to get an early grip on the virus, Devon continues to have one of the lowest rates of Covid-19 cases in the country.

“Thanks to a brilliant Team Devon effort by our frontline health and care workers, council staff, police and military, Devon is in a good position to start welcoming back visitors in July providing the low trend in cases continues locally and nationally.

“It would be a huge boost to our £2billion tourism economy, the biggest in the South West, and all the tens of thousands of people whose livelihoods depend on it.

“We know the people of Britain need a break and we need them back for the economy of this county.

“So I want to say a huge thank you to local people for the way they have steadfastly followed the lockdown measures.

“Every one of you is a hero; you have stepped up, helped us save lives, protect our vital health and care services, and you’re helping to get Devon’s economy back on its feet.

“We just need everyone to keep up the good work, continue being sensible and keep following the local and government guidance.

“For our part, the county council’s public health team, along with Public Health England, the NHS and district council environmental health experts, will continue to monitor the situation in Devon very carefully and we will not hesitate to take early action if there is any sign that the virus is making a comeback.”

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Alistair Handyside, chair of the South West Tourism Alliance, added: “From the outset, we have been clear that we didn’t want to open a day too late nor a day too early.

“This news will be very well received, and now the race is on to ensure that we are ready and able to open by July 4

“That’s a tall ask for many of us, but rest assured that we will be taking our guests’ and also our local community’s safety very seriously.

“Tourism relies on local support, from retail to restaurants, pubs to breweries, campsites to self-catering, so we need to work together to get back on our feet.

“It’s a vital, valuable part of our economy, and despite the circumstances, visitors to Devon and the South West will experience the very best we have to offer. “

Devon’s director of public health Dr Virginia Pearson said: “We are keeping a very close eye on the progress of the virus and, so far, the news continues to be very good.

“We’re not seeing any evidence so far that the relaxations of the lockdown are increasing the spread of the virus, but we need to continue to be vigilant and people should continue to comply with public health measures.”

Only one lab-confirmed Covid-19 case confirmed in East Devon in a fortnight – with five in Exeter

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