North Devon’s much-loved Hocking’s ice cream vans are being taken off the road after concerns members of the public are not adhering to social distancing guidelines in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

The Appledore-based company put a limited number of vans out on Saturday and Sunday (March 21 and 22) after Prime Minister Boris Johnson said takeaways could remain open, and asked members of the public to be considerate while waiting.

However, on Monday (March 23) a statement from Hocking’s Dairy Cream Ices said the weekend would be the company’s last ‘for the foreseeable future’ after being ‘overwhelmed’ by the number of people not paying attention to social distancing guidelines.

The statement said: “We accordingly put just a few vans out Saturday and Sunday, thinking the queue would be in the fresh air and would cause no problem.

“We were completely overwhelmed by the numbers of customers that came for an ice-cream, but more worryingly, by the number of people not paying any attention to the recommended social distance of at least two metres, and being far too close to their neighbours.

“It proved impossible to operate in what we felt was a safe environment for either our customers or our staff.

“Reluctantly we have taken the decision to take the vans off our sites from today, and we urge everyone to stay safe and keep at least two metres from the rest of the world!”

The company said it was planning a pre-order delivery service for its freezer packs within the Torridge area.

The Government advises everyone to follow its social distancing measures to help reduce the transmission of Covid-19). The are:

– Avoid contact with someone who is displaying symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19). These symptoms include high temperature and/or a new and continuous cough

– Avoid non-essential use of public transport

– Work from home, where possible.

– Avoid large and small gatherings in public spaces, noting that pubs, restaurants, leisure centres and similar venues are currently shut as infections spread easily in closed spaces where people gather together.

– Avoid gatherings with friends and family. Keep in touch using remote technology such as phone, internet, and social media

– Use telephone or online services to contact your GP or other essential services