South Hams District Council is urging caution and kindness from both residents and visitors as lockdown measures are eased.

Shop worker at a deli counter arranging stock while wearing a face mask

As more facilities begin to reopen from Saturday, July 4, some residents may feel anxious or concerned. The Council is working with Devon County Council and Public Health England on a COVID-19 Local Outbreak Management Plan in the event that cases do increase locally.

Cllr Judy Pearce, Leader of South Hams District Council, said: "I want to reassure residents that easing the lockdown does not mean that we are letting our guard down here in the South Hams. We've been extremely fortunate to have one of the lowest number of confirmed cases in the UK, and I firmly believe that this is down to the good sense and community spirit of our residents.

"I can understand that people are worried that if lockdown is released too quickly or there is a sudden surge in visitors that this could cause a second peak of infection. But at the same time many local businesses, especially those in tourism and leisure sectors, rely on visitors for their income.

"Although visitor numbers rose over the two bank holiday weekends in May, there was no corresponding spike in infections afterwards, so if we all play our part in maintaining social distancing and good hygiene, we can keep our cases low moving forward."

The Council is working to reopen its facilities, including playgrounds, from Saturday 4 July in line with Government guidelines. As the play equipment is handled by many children every day, the Council recommends that parents and guardians should clean children's hands before and after using the equipment.

Many public toilets have already reopened in the South Hams, and the Council is continuing to reopen them on a phased basis. Again, please help to keep these facilities safe for everyone by cleaning your hands before and after use.

The Dartmouth Lower Ferry will be operating two ferries from Monday 29 Jun, with the last ferry from Dartmouth leaving at 8.55 p.m. The service will be increased if there is sufficient demand. Social distancing measures will still be in place, and customers should pay by card wherever possible.

The Government announcement did not allow for leisure centres, gyms and swimming pools to reopen, but Fusion Leisure are working to reopen when Government guidance allows them to do so.

The offices at Follaton House will remain closed, as staff are working effectively and efficiently from home. The Government guidance is still that people who can work from home should do so and the Council will continue to follow this guidance.

The Council has also made a number of public open spaces available for cafes and pubs to use for outside seating. These outside seating areas will be carefully monitored to ensure that they are kept clean and tidy, and that no anti-social behaviour results.

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Cllr Pearce continued: "As life starts to return to normal here in the South Hams, I look forward to welcoming visitors back to the area.

"However, I would urge everyone to please respect our beautiful environment, and be considerate of our residents. Make sure you take your litter home with you, and please play your part by following Government guidance - wash your hands regularly, cover your nose and mouth when inside shops and stay 2m from other people wherever possible.

"Above all - be kind, be considerate and understanding. Thank you to everyone who has worked so hard to keep the South Hams safe during these difficult times." 

26 June 2020