Accommodation providers and second home owners appear to have been mostly complying with the coronavirus lockdown according to North Devon Council.
The council’s environmental health teams were out on patrol and visiting numerous locations before and during the Easter weekend in response to concerns reported by the public.
There had been fears many holidaymakers or second home owners had ‘sneaked’ into the region for Easter and would be putting a severe strain on local facilities and the heath service.
Jeremy Mann, head of environmental health and housing at NDC, said the council had so far had about 130 concerns reported to them by people who feared the lockdown was being flouted.
He told the Gazette: “All of these reports were investigated as we considered appropriate. Last week officers undertook to go on joint visits with the police.
“There were three teams of environmental health staff with police officers, visiting 20 addresses and there are only two cases that are now subject to further investigation.”
Over the Easter bank holiday weekend, Mr Mann said council officers patrolled different parts of the district, mainly to ensure campsites were complying with the enforced closure.
He said ‘a very limited number’ of things came to light but overall there had been a positive reaction with people following the rules.
This week he said council officers were likely to be out conducting visits on local premises with the police.
He added: “That’s not to say we won’t investigate and if there is any need for us to use our new regulatory powers then obviously we will.”
Speaking before Easter, NDC leader, Councillor David Worden said: “The message is clear. North Devon is not open for tourism business.
“Not only is it incredibly irresponsible for people to make non-essential travel, we simply do not have the infrastructure to cope with an increased population. Local supermarkets are under strain and we certainly don’t want any extra pressure put on our local NHS.
“So any holiday accommodation owners that we know of who are encouraging people to come down here on holiday will be forced to shut down. If they refuse, we can prosecute. This may seem harsh but this is about keeping people safe and saving lives.”
Anyone who has concerns about holiday accommodation being in use or businesses being open when they shouldn’t can report them online via https://my.northdevon.gov.uk/service/Incident_to_Environmental_Health or call the council on 01271 327711.
In the Torridge District Council area, concerns about second homes should be reported to the police 101, while holiday homes or businesses concerns should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org .