Covid-19: Devon moves into Tier 3 on New Years Eve

Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaking at a press conference in 10 Downing Street, London, following

Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaking at a press conference in 10 Downing Street, London, following the tightening of England's Covid-19 tiers. - Credit: PA

North Devon and Torridge face more coronavirus restrictions from midnight as Devon moves into Tier 3. 

Today (Wednesday, December 30), health secretary Matt Hancock told MPs rising cases across the country meant tougher restrictions would be necessary. 

A further 20 million people in England will be in the highest Tier 4 level as of one minute past midnight tonight (December 31). 

No areas of the country remain in Tier 2, as Cornwall joined Devon in Tier 3 while Somerset is now in Tier 4. 

Tier 3 means bars, pubs, cafes, restaurants and social clubs must close except for takeaway, delivery and click and collect services.  

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Food or drink bought via these must not be consumed on the premises including beer gardens. 

Holiday accommodation must close, except for those people travelling for work, while most tourist venues and entertainment must close, but some outdoor venues are permitted to remain open. 

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As with Tier 2, people must not meet socially with anyone indoors who they do not live with, or are not in a support bubble with. 

People cannot meet socially in a private garden or most outdoor public venues with anybody they do not live with or have a support bubble with. 

They can see friends and family they do not live with (or do not have a support bubble with) in some public outdoor places – such as parks or public gardens, in a group of up to six. 

However, leisure and sports facilities may continue to stay open, but indoor group exercise classes (including fitness and dance) should not go ahead. 

North Devon MP Selaine Saxby said of the move into Tier 3: “I very much reiterate the position of our director of public health, Steve Brown, who 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’.”  

She added: “Having been in health briefings this afternoon, it is clear that the situation is serious with the new variant and deteriorating rapidly and cases in North Devon per 100,000 are amongst the highest in Devon, and in the past week some wards the highest in the whole South West of England.   

“Whilst recognising how difficult this is for our beleaguered hospitality and tourism businesses, New Year’s Eve was potentially a time where people would be tempted to breach regulations, and households mix, as we have unfortunately seen increasingly here in Devon, and I suspect this has also influenced the timing and speed of the implementation of Tier 3.” 

From December 23 to December 29 there were 69 new Covid-19 cases in North Devon, bringing the total so far to 1,410, with six deaths following a Covid positive test in the week from December 12 to 18. 

In Torridge, that week saw two deaths, while 48 new cases were recorded from December 23 to 29, bringing the total to 674. 

The Liberal Democrats in North Devon have been critical of the lateness of the announcement. In a statement they said the lack of notice for businesses was 'unforgivable and downright cruel’.  

It added: “Local hospitality businesses especially have worked incredibly hard to adhere to the rules and book in customers safely, even ordering food and drink, only to be given less than 24 hours notice to cancel it all.  

“We are so sorry for these hard-working local businesses. It simply isn’t fair. We’ll be fighting for them all.” 

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