Easing lockdown in Sidmouth

The priority is to protect locals and visitors:

as the town centre begins to open up cautiously and carefully,

independent food and essential shops continue to serve the community,

while parks, beaches and the Esplanade remain uncrowded;

most shops will be closed until mid-month, whilst the hospitality industry will have to wait another month.

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In Sidmouth, it sometimes feels as if the rest of the country is on its own trajectory…

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THE WEST COUNTRY:

At the beginning of the month, there had been hopes that the countryside could be opened up earlier:

Rural parts of UK could come out of lockdown before cities | cambridge-news.co.uk

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A week later, this idea was quashed:

‘TOO SOON’ Government will NOT vary coronavirus lockdown rules by region yet despite differing infection rates across parts of UK | thesun.co.uk

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And yet at the same time, the capital was pushing for earlier opening:

LONDON FALLING London coronavirus cases drop to just 24 a day with predictions it could be wiped out from capital in a fortnight | thesun.co.uk

Coronavirus: Could London be allowed to ease its lockdown restrictions before the rest of UK? | independent.co.uk

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Comparing the regions, the West Country does indeed have the lowest cases – but the highest infection rate – and it’s the only region where there is uncertainty about an increase, other regions looking at a decrease:

The South West has the highest coronavirus ‘R rate’ in the UK | devonlive.co.uk

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The signs of that increase do not look good – whether for hospitals and care homes, or when it comes to behaviour by visitors or by locals.

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Midweek, it was clear that visitors are straining local health services:

Somerset NHS hospital shuts doors to new patients due to spike in coronavirus cases | telegraph.co.uk

On Friday, although numbers of cases are going down, nevertheless, “a further 11 care homes in Devon reported coronavirus outbreaks”:

More care homes report coronavirus outbreaks in Devon | devonlive.com

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Also on Friday, “Police in Devon revealed that they are having to deal with a large number of coronavirus breaches linked to second homes”:

Warning issued as police investigate glut of second home coronavirus breaches | devonlive.com

Yesterday, “divisive scenes were shared from across Devon & Cornwall, showing thousands flocking to beaches and beauty spots to soak up the sunshine – incuding crowds at Exeter Quay”:

Police warnings as people flock to Devon and Cornwall beaches day before lockdown easing | cornwalllive.com

LIVE: Huge crowds expected at beaches across West Country amid police warnings | somersetlive.co.uk

Many of these are not just people down from London, with “a large group of young men shouting and mocking officers” on the seafront:

Police officers mocked by beachgoers in Exmouth | devonlive.com

What’s more, responsible business owners have not been behaving as such:

Coronavirus: Thousands report businesses defying lockdown rules | bbc.com

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The question is how well this bodes once lockdown officially eases tomorrow:

Everything you can and can’t do in lockdown from June 1 | plymouthherald.co.uk

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But most shops will continue to be closed until mid-month:

OPEN FOR BUSINESS All shops including toys, clothes and furniture to reopen by June 15, Boris Johnson confirms | thesun.co.uk

Which shops will reopen on June 1 and June 15 – and what will stay closed? | mirror.co.uk

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Advice is being given to  shops and businesses on how to prepare:

Support for businesses on reopening and returning to work | thepost.co.uk

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SIDMOUTH:

Meanwhile, the Sidmouth Town Council is preparing with care and precautions:

Strategies to open up Sidmouth: new safeguards

Strategies to open up Sidmouth: protecting shoppers and workers

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The few independent food and essential shops which have been open will continue to serve the community:

New food shop opens in Sidmouth

Support your local small business

Shops and services: help at hand: update

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Whilst most other types of shops will be allowed to open in two weeks’ time, the hospitality industry will be on hold for at least another month:

Hospitality businesses could open from July as coronavirus lockdown measures relaxed | thecater.com

PM “optimistic” about early reopening of pubs and restaurants in England | bighospitality.co.uk

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But the industry is being innovative: today’s news on the Wired website looks at how apps will help pubs reopen:

“We’re working with app companies to explore ways that customers could book pub slots, to help manage numbers. We’ll be limiting the time that people spend there as well – but it’s for each pub to decide how to best manage their capacity.”

Here’s how pubs can finally reopen | wired.co.uk

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And whilst tourism is a key part of the economy – so too is looking after one of the most elderly populations in the country:

Coronavirus, care homes and Sidmouth

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Finally, then, is Sidmouth particularly vulnerable to the easing of lockdown?

Or will the ‘normal’ slower pace of life, the older population, and the lack of sandy beaches mean that the town and its hinterland will be a little less frenzied than other parts?

Take a look at the webcams on the Esplanade: it generally seems relatively quiet:

visitsidmouth.co.uk/128-sidmouth-webcams

As pictured here:

   
© Vision Group for Sidmouth 2005-2020