As we move past Christmas and into New Year 2020 the threat of new strains of coronavirus and climbing rates of infection have seen further extensions to restrictions in other parts of the country, noticeably the South East.

With a view to keeping the virus in check in Torridge, Council Officers in partnership with Devon and Cornwall Police want people to continue to do the right thing in the run up to 2021. Their plea is for people to celebrate in their bubbles and not to congregate on the streets or with groups of others this new year.

Unlike a normal year there will be no events on the Quay this new year in Bideford and no parties in Holsworthy.

Assuming that the area hasn’t been escalated into a higher tier of Coronavirus control, local restaurants and entertainment venues will be open under the current arrangements, which allow alcohol to be served with food. But the message is for people not to linger after their meals but to return to their homes and celebrate within the limited gatherings allowed under the current restrictions. Otherwise the fear is that infection rates could rise, more people will be put at unnecessary risk and all the hard work and sacrifice will be wasted.

Council Officers and the police will be checking premises to ensure they are operating within the current guidelines and will also have special powers to disperse any unlawful gatherings they come across in the streets. But the hope is that everyone will behave sensibly and not put extra pressure on emergency services over the festive period.

Leader of Torridge District Council – Councillor Ken James said: “Through the cooperation, goodwill and common sense of residents and businesses we have been able to reduce and suppress the spread of corona virus in Torridge for much of 2020.

“While we want to encourage people to support local businesses by having a meal to celebrate new year, we don’t want people to gather on the streets this year. Please continue to follow the guidance and rules and hopefully 2021 will be a brighter year for everyone and in the meantime celebrate at home and stay safe.”

Inspector Shaun Kenneally – Devon and Cornwall Police said: “This year is one like no other and the festive period is going to be difficult for everyone. Please abide by the government guidelines, the emergency services will be busy over this period as we are every year.

“We do not want the unnecessary demand of COVID breach reports and having to potentially enforce the law with fines. Please stick to the rules, be sensible and most of all stay safe.”