The Leader of Devon County Council has urged people to stick to the rules so that cases continue to fall and the county can be placed in Tier 1.

Cases rates within Devon are among the lowest in England and have been falling, but the county was placed into Tier 2 by Matt Hancock this morning when the National Lockdown ends up next.

Cllr John Hart, leader of the council, said he was disappointed by the announcement and renew his appeal to people to abide by the guidelines to give the county the best chance of dropping into Tier 1 when the first review takes place in two weeks’ time.

He said: “Devon has done well so far in keeping case numbers relatively low and I would like to thank everyone for their actions during the latest lockdown, so I’m disappointed that we have been placed in Tier 2.

“It’s even more vital now that we all stick to the guidelines and maintain social distance, wash our hands regularly and wear masks where required so we can get cases down and get into Tier 1.

“And working with MPs and Team Devon partners I will be strongly lobbying the Government to provide tailored support for our hard-hit hospitality industry, which is losing out significantly during what’s usually their most lucrative period.

Cllr John Hart, leader of Devon County Council

“I’m pleased local shops will be able to re-open in the run-up to Christmas and begin to help our economy recover, but in Devon, hospitality businesses are crucial and they need targeted support.

“In the meantime I would renew my appeal to people to stick to the rules to keep themselves and their families and neighbours safe and minimise the pressure on our local health services.

“I welcome the opening of the Nightingale Hospital in Exeter today but, as Boris Johnson has conceded, the South West still lacks hospital beds and this must be urgently addressed.”

The Director of Public Health Devon (Designate), Steve Brown, added that going into Tier 2 now gives Devon the best chance of continuing to bring down the number of cases.

He added: “While the number of cases across Devon has stabilised, it is clear that the virus is still with us.

“Local cases were rising when previously in Tier 1 and it has only been through the additional restrictions and efforts of residents, that we are now just starting to see a reduction in cases. Going into Tier 2 now gives us the best chance of continuing to keep a lid on cases or even continuing to bring them down.

High Alert Tier 2
High Alert Tier 2

“The number of cases still out in our communities remains a real concern, particularly in the working age population and among older people – in workplaces, care homes and other settings where people come together.

“We must not let down our guard over the next few weeks, nor throw caution to the wind over the Christmas period.

“It would take little for the numbers to start to increase again and for our hospitals to be put under increased pressure, and none of us should want to pay the price for that in a few weeks’ time or in the New Year.”

The Covid tiers in England from December 2

Cllr Paul Arnott, Leader of East Devon District Council, said that it is deeply distressing for Devon to be marooned in Tier 2.

He added: “We are scheduling urgent meetings of senior councillors and officers to respond to this very bad news. The expectation of local people and businesses had been that we’d be out of lockdown on 2nd December – but now this. We will do all we can to respond as fully and positively as possible.

“It must be said that It is deeply distressing for Devon to be marooned in Tier 2. Despite campaigners – including me – warning the government for many years that to continually shrink our local hospital capacity was dangerous, we now find ourselves in Tier 2 mainly because of inadequate current and projected NHS capacity. The RDE is down a thousand staff, and more locals beds no longer exist.

Cllr Paul Arnott, leader of East Devon District Council
Cllr Paul Arnott, leader of East Devon District Council

“Non-Conservative councillors have been begging and pleading on this topic for years through the DCC Health and Social Care Scrutiny Committee at DCC but the Tories consistently refused requests to go into battle to prevent the loss of East Devon’s community hospital beds.

“Now, our poor local businesses and employees – indeed our entire local economy – will pay the price for the failure of those Tories at Devon County who were not prepared to put the blue rosette to one side and tell truth to power.”

Cllr David Worden, leader of North Devon Council added: “Although it wasn’t unexpected, we’re obviously disappointed to be placed in Tier 2, knowing what an effect it will have on our community. Our numbers are starting to come down but we are still above the average for Devon and we need each and every person in North Devon to strictly adhere to the guidelines, keep their distance, wash and sanitise hands regularly and not mix with other households so we can get back to Tier 1 at the earliest opportunity.”

What do you think about Devon going into Tier 2? Let us know what you think in the comments section here or you can fill out our latest survey here.

Teignbridge Council Leader, Cllr Alan Connett said: “I’m hugely disappointed for Teignbridge, and even more saddened for the businesses that will be adversely affected by this decision. Whilst this news brings some hope for many of our businesses that they can open up again, our drinks-only hospitality industry must be feeling near desperation at the prospect of what looks like a further lockdown for them.

“We want to help these businesses as much as possible to diversify their offer, to enable them to work within the rules and reopen wherever possible, and also through our businesses grants and other support, so I’d encourage them to get in touch. We want to help and will where we can.

“We’re very unlucky that we’ve been placed in a higher tier than many expected, and it does feel like a slap in the face for everyone who has worked so hard to keep our infection rates low, keep our high streets and businesses covid safe and stick to the rules.

“But what we need to focus on now is keeping our rates down, helping get our NHS through this critical period, and supporting our local communities to recover.

“It’s not going to be easy – we’re already seeing big increases in claims for universal credit, council tax relief and hardship funds, and our economy is being hit hard.

“By continuing to work together, we may be able to get into Tier 1, and we can support our businesses and traders by shopping locally wherever possible. Let’s keep Devon safe and strong.”





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