Posted: 20.07.20 at 09:08 by Francesca Evans
As schools close for the summer and the holiday season gets fully underway, the South West is calling on residents and visitors alike to play their part in keeping the region COVID-safe this summer.
Following the opening up of the hospitality and tourist sector two weeks ago, levels of infection and new cases in the South West have continued to remain among the lowest in the country – and the region's leaders paid tribute to the businesses which have opened up for playing their part in keeping the area COVID-safe.
Devon County Council has said we are now entering a "crucial time" at the start of the summer tourism peak.
As more residents take a break with their families, and as further lockdown rules are lifted, residents and visitors to Devon are being urged to prevent the spread of the virus, which remains a serious threat to public health.
So the message from South West authorities is clear – whether you are visiting, living here or a resident about to go on holiday – stick with us and keep following the guidance to keep everyone safe.
That means continuing to observe social distancing guidance, getting tested if you have symptoms, washing hands regularly, wearing face covering where appropriate, and making use of hand sanitiser wherever it is available.
Thanking residents and businesses in Devon, County Council leader John Hart said: “Local businesses, communities and the wider public have done a fantastic job in respecting the rules and putting the right measures in place in order to get open for business and help life get back to as normal as possible.
“None more so than those in the tourism and leisure industry which is so vital to our local economy and jobs where we have all worked together to ensure things can reopen safely.
“But we do not want to see the number of cases starting to rise again and local restrictions return.
“This means we all have to take personal responsibility, use our common sense and keep following the rules.
“And in Devon, the county council will be working closely across health, the police, with communities and businesses to keep a very close eye on the situation going forwards to make sure we track any new cases and act fast if we see any potential hotspots that might signal a return of the virus.”
Devon’s Director of Public Health, Dr Virginia Pearson, added: “We are pleased to welcome visitors to Devon but we ask that they remain vigilant.
"The advice is still, if you have symptoms or you have been in contact with a confirmed case, please stay at home. And when here, enjoy our county, respect our county and heed all the advice about social distancing, washing hands and wearing face coverings.”
Chief Superintendent of Devon & Cornwall Police, Matt Lawler, commented: “As anticipated, we are now starting to see an increase in local people out and about and tourists visiting the counties.
"I would like to thank the vast majority of people who continue to adhere to government and health guidance and we are pleased to be able to welcome back visitors to our region safely and respectfully.
“Devon & Cornwall Police has been planning extensively with partners throughout the lockdown period for the re-opening of our region and whilst I have no doubt we are going to be stretched over the coming months, we have robust plans in place and we are ready.
“There will be more officers on patrol throughout the region with greater visibility and reassurance to communities throughout the summer period, particularly near beaches and waterways.
"We have also used additional investment provided by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner to give support to tackle drink related anti-social behavior, and are working with the local Community Safety Partnerships to provide extra street warden security, public toilets and CCTV monitoring.
“If you are coming to Devon, Cornwall, Torbay, Plymouth or the Isles of Scilly, we welcome you, but please remember that COVID has not gone away. The infection rates remain low here and we are all keen for it to stay this way.
“We do expect our visitors to be respectful of the local community so that we can all enjoy the summer. Please continue to play your part and behave in a way that shows kindness and understanding to each other.”
Guidance for visitors to the county, about COVID-19, has been produced by tourism businesses, public health and local authorities across the South of England.
It includes advice to would-be visitors to the region, as well as actions to take for guests who might start displaying symptoms while on holiday.