With the worst wave of coronavirus yet to hit the area, North Devon Council is teaming up with local police officers to step up enforcement of Covid-19 breaches.
The government is urging local authorities and police forces to use the powers available to crack down on those people who are not social distancing, travelling unnecessarily or continuing to run a business that should be closed.

The four strand approach involves

  • acting on reports of breaches of regulations and virus outbreaks
  • using intelligence to identify potential breaches such as the advertising of holiday lets
  • inspections of high risk places such as supermarkets, offices and showrooms
  • checks on temporary accommodation to ensure vulnerable people are being accommodated safely

The police will accompany council officers on inspections of holiday homes and extra NDC staff are being diverted into the authority's Covid enforcement team.
The council is also working closely with the Health and Safety Executive's Spot Check initiative and 340 local businesses have already been approached to check they are Covid-secure.

Council Leader Cllr David Worden says: "The vast majority of local people are abiding by the rules but there are still a minority who are posing a huge risk to others by not taking the measures that are needed to prevent the spread of this killer virus. We only ever carry out enforcement as a last resort but some people have left us with no choice so now is the time to step up our efforts to protect the rest of the community."

Local Policing Area Commander for North and West Devon, Superintendent Toby Davies says: "We will continue to work closely with our council colleagues in maintaining the safety of our communities.

"We recognise this has been an incredibly challenging time for everyone and the community response in helping to stop the spread of this cruel virus is hugely appreciated. Whilst most adhere to the rules, disappointingly we continue to see a minority who blatantly disregard the rules, and risk further spread of the virus.

"We have invested a considerable amount of time and energy helping to engage, explain and educate - and people have had plenty of time to fully understand the rules. As such, those who continue to blatantly breach the rules, do so knowingly, and can expect robust formal action. This partnership response sends out a strong message, that the police and the council will work together and not tolerate people who risk spreading this virus. Please stay at home and stay safe."

This new approach follows a stark warning from the Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty, that the next few weeks will be “the worst” of the pandemic for the NHS, and that the UK will go through the “most dangerous time” in the weeks before the vaccination rollout has an impact.