Beach huts in East Devon to reopen as government lockdown rules are relaxed

Beach huts in East Devon will reopen from Saturday, July 4, in line with the Government’s relaxation of lockdown rules.

The 417 iconic seafront structures in Beer, Budleigh Salterton, Exmouth, Seaton and Sidmouth have been off-limits since March.

Some 20 chalets in Exmouth, which can be used all-year-round, will also be made accessible again.

The district council will put up social distancing signs and use stencils to spray-paint markings at each site.

Tenants will be given brief guidance on steps they should take – and have been told to stick to detailed Whitehall guidance.

The huts must be erected in the next three weeks ‘to minimise any impact on the summer holidays’.

Users who are shielding or unable to use their hut this season will not be charged and can resume their normal rental in 2021.

Councillor Paul Hayward, deputy leader of East Devon District Council (EDDC) and cabinet member for economy, asset management and regeneration, said: “I am delighted that these much-loved and well-used public amenities are now able to be re-opened, subject to the necessary social distancing and signage.

“Cllr John Hart, leader of Devon County Council, is absolutely spot-on when he states that, ‘Devonians are sensible people, who behave sensibly and follow the rules’.

“We all have personal responsibility for ourselves, and to protect our loved-ones and neighbours.

“Summer is an intrinsic part of Devon life and the ability to sit by the seaside is an oft-overlooked pleasure and will allow us to return to some sense of normality whilst recognising – at all times – that the virus still exists, and will not hesitate to strike again if we are not all very careful.

“It would be remiss of me not to mention that revenue from the hire of these huts plays a part in balancing the council’s books and thus every day that they remained closed worsened our financial position, and made the job of providing quality services to all residents that much harder.

“But I wholeheartedly believe that council has struck the right balance between public safety, and public amenity, in this decision and look forward to seeing our beaches and tourist spots bustling with laughter and fun again – in a safe, secure and sensible manner of course.”

An EDDC spokesperson added: “Tenants will be responsible for ensuring the safety of hut erections, adhering to Covid-19-secure guidance and safe methods of operation or ensuring their contractors do so.

“To compensate for the lost time due to the lockdown, we are holding the beach hut charge rate from last year and reducing it pro-rata for the remaining season.”

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