East Devon businesses 'doing utmost' to comply with covid regulations
Local democracy reporter Daniel Clark
- Credit: Valentin
Businesses across Devon have by and large been compliant with the new Covid rules in place as of April 12 as the country comes out of lockdown.
In step 2 of the roadmap, non-essential retail, personal care premises such as hairdressers and nail salons, outdoor hospitality venues, and self-contained accommodation such as campsites and holiday lets were among the premises able to reopen.
While a handful of complaints of businesses operating outside of the new guidelines have been made to councils across Devon, no formal action has been taken against any businesses, with those spoken informally accepting errors that had been made, often due to confusion over the specifics of the legislation.
One Airbnb flat was operating when it should not have been because it shared an entrance, stairwell and corridor with other residents, and as a result bookings until May 17 have been cancelled, while several outdoor shelters erected at pubs have had to be altered as they were not complying with regulation provided them to 50 per cent open to qualify as outdoors.
On whether complaints had been made to them, a spokesman for East Devon District Council said: “There have been various instances but not many directly related to Step 2, which began on 12 April.
“Our covid compliance officers have been in contact with an Airbnb flat that had been operating, but because it shared an entrance, stairwell and corridor with other residents, it shouldn’t have been.
“Following advice, guidance and help from our officers the host has now cancelled all bookings until May 17.
“We have also offered advice and guidance to a very small number of pubs and cafés which had outside marquees that had more than the maximum, 50 per cent of the sidewalls, closed.
“On the whole most businesses are doing their utmost to comply. Where advice has been given, it has been accepted and there has been no need for any further measures or penalties.”
A spokesman for South Hams District Council said: “The council continues to work proactively with local businesses to ensure that they operate in accordance with the COVID Restrictions that came in from April 12. In general, businesses and the public have welcomed the support of Covid compliance officers to keep their towns safe. South Hams District Council has issued 16 outdoor seating licenses and two pavement licences to allow al fresco dining and we have not taken any action since April 12.”
A Mid Devon District Council spokesman said: “Where possible, we will try to work alongside businesses and provide Covid-19 support and guidance for those who need it. Enforcement action is taken extremely seriously and taken only ever as a last resort. The decision on whether action is taken is also dependent on the nature of the breach in question. Whilst we have received complaints, we have yet to take any enforcement action against businesses following the new restrictions which came into force on April 12.”
North Devon Council’s service lead for food safety and health & safety, Pam Charles, confirmed that they have had 11 complaints about businesses – four on outdoor shelters not complying with regulation of being ‘outdoors’, three on Holiday Accommodation being let, three other the lack of social distancing other Covid measures in licensed premises, and one on a barbershop have lack of face coverings and/or an appointment system.
All have been dealt with by informal action with visits, advice given, followed up to ensure future compliance, she said.