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Heeding guidance around social distancing in the South West

  • by JW

East Devon District Council said it will continue to work with police and will close open spaces if people are not behaving responsibly.


The front page of this morning’s i-newspaper shows the full extent of the risk of an increase in coronavirus in the South West:

Coronavirus: Concerns grow over a second peak of Covid-19 infections hitting the South West of England | inews


The story is being confirmed across the media:

COVID-19 R-rate rises to 1 in South West – second highest in England – Devon Live

Coronavirus: R number ‘rises across England’ and ‘around 1 in North West and South West’ | Politics News | Sky News

New statistics suggest the South West is only region in UK projected to have a rise in Covid-19 cases | West Country – ITV News


The Sidmouth Nub News carries the statement about the rise in R value, announced today, from the Director of Public Health for Public Health Devon, Dr Virginia Pearson:


Keeping her distance

“The R value is an important regional barometer based on modelling data, but while it provides an estimate of ongoing transmission, it alone cannot determine the rate of growth of coronavirus and does not accurately reflect Devon’s local data on the ground. As such it should be treated with a little caution.
“The South West R value spans from Isles of Scilly to Bristol, and while there have been hotspots in other parts of the region that increase the R value, Devon’s figures have remained low.
“We have the fifth lowest number of recorded cases when comparing Devon to all 150 upper tier local authorities and the consistency of the numbers suggest that levels have plateaued recently. That’s in part due to our residents adhering to lock down, and heeding national guidance around staying home and social distancing. We have done well in that regard and need to keep that up.
“We continue to work closely with our Public Health and NHS colleagues to ensure the safety of our Devon residents, and we wait to hear the Government’s response to this latest R rate announcement.”

Understanding the R Value and its ‘expected’ rise in the South West |


However, people are not “heeding national guidance around staying home and social distancing”.


The front page of the latest Herald shows “large groups gathering on the beach and seafront, ignoring the risk of spreading the coronavirus”:

Coronavirus: crowds flock to Sidmouth beach despite lockdown guidelines | Sidmouth Herald


Consequently, beaches and parks are having to be closed in East Devon:

“Large groups of people have been congregating on beaches across East Devon, ignoring social distancing restrictions and government guidelines of no more than six people gathering at one time. East Devon District Council said it will continue to work with police and will close open spaces if people are not behaving responsibly.”

East Devon District Council ‘act responsibly’ plea after Exmouth park closed | Sidmouth Herald

2 June 2020 – Council appeals to visitors to help keep the district tidy, behave responsibly and keep to the social distancing rule – East Devon


And elsewhere in the South West, pleas are being made for people to respect social distancing as beaches continue to fill up:

Somerset leaders urge people to minimise virus spread as South West R number hits 1.0 | Somerset County Gazette

Bournemouth MP Conor Burns writes to Michal Gove on beach crowding | Bournemouth Echo

Teignbridge beaches left covered in rubbish after weekend | South West Farmer


All this, despite the efforts being made:

11 ways the South West has been vital in the fight against COVID-19 – Somerset Live


To what extent, therefore, will local measures to allow for social distancing be at all effective?

Strategies to open up Sidmouth: more social distancing – Vision Group for Sidmouth