East Devon and Exeter are to be moved into Tier 3 of the Government’s coronavirus restrictions, it has been announced this afternoon.
All of Devon will be subject to the rules from Thursday, December 31, after Whitehall reviewed statuses of areas around the country.
The county had previously been in Tier 2.
It means that:
- Residents must not meet socially indoors with anybody who you do not live with, or you are not in a support bubble with;
- You must not meet socially outdoors (in a private garden or at most outdoor public venues) with anybody who you do not live with, or you are not in a support bubble with.
There are some legal exemptions to both of the above. If you are meeting with friends or family, you must follow the guidance on social distancing and letting in fresh air and limit how many different people you see socially over any period of time.
Extra advice is available for people who are identified as being clinically extremely vulnerable.
- Hospitality settings, such as bars, pubs, cafés, restaurants and social clubs must close except for takeaway, delivery and click and collect services. Food or drink bought via these must not be consumed on the premises, including beer gardens;
- Hotels, B&Bs, campsites, holiday lets and guest houses, must close (again, there are exceptions to this rule);
- Most tourist venues and entertainment must close, but some outdoor venues are permitted to remain open.
Steve Brown, director of public health in Devon, said: “Cases in Devon, while we have been in Tier 2, have been rising in all age groups, as per the national trend.
“Without further intervention with tighter restrictions, we are likely to have seen cases continuing to rise and therefore I feel this announcement was inevitable.
“The decision has been made to place us into Tier 3 and what is important now is we do everything we can to adhere to these tighter restrictions to help bring down cases in Devon
“We will have heard the welcome news today that a second vaccine has been approved for use from early January, but we cannot sit back and relax on the strength of that.
“Please keep up the effort, and remember the key messages, to social distance, wear your face coverings when in a public space where social distancing is not possible, and wash your hands properly and regularly.”
East Devon MP Simon Jupp said: “Devon will move into Tier 3 tomorrow.
“Case numbers continue to rise across the county and our NHS remains under strain.
“There is hope and optimism following independent approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine which will be rolled-out from next week.
“This is very welcome news, but we can’t let our guard down.”
East Devon District Council (EDDC) Paul Arnott said: “The threat from the new and more transmittable strain of the virus is extremely serious and the people of East Devon must do all they can to protect the health of both themselves and others.
“I wish everyone a happy new year and urge you to celebrate safely from your own home and respect at all times the increased safety obligations of Tier 3.”
Exeter MP Ben Bradshaw said: “It’s great news that the Oxford vaccine has been approved, as this is the one that most of us will get, as it is easier to deploy.
“The Goverment must now ensure that the NHS has the resources and staff to administer the vaccines round-the-clock so we can get on top of this pandemic as soon as possible.
“I also agree with those who argue that administering one dose to as many people as possible as quickly as possible would be better than two doses to fewer people, as all the vaccines provide a very good level of protection at one dose and doing that is likely to get us out of this crisis sooner.”
Business leaders in Exeter say they understand the need for ‘tough measures’ to tackle the rapidly-spreading new strain of coronavirus and protect the NHS and communities.
However, they added this ‘must not be at the expense of further damage to our economy’.
Clodagh Murphy, chairman of Exeter Chamber, said: “With hospitality businesses already reporting an 80 per cent reduction in takings over the Christmas/New Year period, and now facing closure once again, we urgently call for emergency measures to support those businesses that are most affected by these new restrictions.
“These include, but are not limited to, the hospitality, leisure and tourism sectors which are vital to both Devon and the wider West Country’s economic success.
“We want thank all of our local businesses and hospitality for all their hard work over the last nine months as we have tackled the changing landscape of this pandemic.
“These businesses are the lifeblood of the Devon economy and they have been tremendous.
“The rollout of the vaccine programme, and the approval of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, gives us all hope of a return to something approaching normality later in 2021.
“However, in the meantime, we must not allow businesses to fail due to lack of government support in these final months, so that they are able to come back in the spring/summer and continue to help the region’s economy prosper and grow.”
EDDC has set up a Coronavirus Community Support Hub to help vulnerable residents.
If you, or a friend or family member are clinically extremely vulnerable, or in need of help and support, the authority has a dedicated team which can help people:
- Feeling isolated;
- Unable to access food or other services;
- Not sure on where to go for help and advice.
More information is available here.