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England, United Kingdom

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Holiday lets 'continuing to trade' in Cornwall

Miles Davis

BBC News Online

Fistral
BBC

Cornwall Council says some holiday accommodation providers are 'continuing to trade' despite the government ordering all non-essential businesses to close.

Cornwall Council said it had received complaints alleging "some holiday accommodation providers are still having holiday makers in their premises and operating illegally".

The council’s enforcement team is now writing to all holiday accommodation owners, letting agents and online booking platforms in Cornwall who are not exempt from the COVID-19 orders to ask for their cooperation in complying with the orders.

Exemptions include people who are unable to move into a new home, homeless and other vulnerable people and those attending a funeral.

Devon and Cornwall Police 'not changing travel advice'

Johanna Carr

BBC News Online

Police
BBC

Devon and Cornwall Police is once again urging people not to use their car to drive to the coast or countryside to exercise.

Guidance, issued by the National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) and the College of Policing on Tuesday told forces people could drive a reasonable distance to exercise but Devon and Cornwall Police said it would not change its advice on traveling.

In a statement, the force said: "There has been much discussion around what the legislation does and doesn’t specifically prohibit.

"The legal aspects of the legislation are based upon whether a person’s actions are reasonable or not.

"Officers will continue to make individual judgments based on the specific circumstances presented to them."

Devon and Cornwall Police said if you can exercise with a run or a walk near your home, it is reasonable for you to do so.

It added: "Our interpretation is that it is not reasonable, for the majority, to drive miles to a specific place such as a beauty spot.

"It is also not within the spirit of what we are trying to achieve if you drive from Devon to the coast of Cornwall for surfing, regardless of whether that is 'lawful' or not."

Council calls for retired social workers to help

Cornwall Council is asking former or retired social workers to help vulnerable people during the coronavirus outbreak.

It said it would like to hear from anyone with experience in social care, who could then be matched to work in their local area based on their skills.

The request follows Social Work England's plans to contact former social workers who have left the register in the last two years.

Cornwall Council said it was extending this invitation to "fit, proper and suitably experienced professionals" to bolster local efforts.

Councillor Sally Hawken said: “I’d like to thank our social work teams who are doing a fantastic job of supporting families during this difficult time and also to thank those who come forward to answer this call.

"There have never been times like these before and we need everyone to play their part to help get us all though this."

Those who are interested should email HRdeployment@cornwall.gov.uk

Twelve more deaths in Devon and Cornwall

Chris Quevatre

BBC News Online

A further 12 people who had tested positive for coronavirus in Devon and Cornwall have died, bringing the total to 39.

The latest data from the NHS shows one person in Exeter, two people in Plymouth, three in Torbay, and six people in Cornwall have died, bringing the UK total to 2,352.

563 people who had tested positive for coronavirus died in the last 24 hours.

Coronavirus: UK deaths rise to 2,352 amid rush to test medics

Coronavirus in UK: How many confirmed cases are there in your area?

What is the coronavirus?

Merlin helicopters to help NHS fight coronavirus

Chris Quevatre

BBC News Online

Helicopters usually used to hunt down submarines have been reassigned to help the NHS during the coronavirus pandemic.

Three Merlin helicopters from 820 Naval Air Squadron at RNAS Culdrose will provide "round-the-clock assistance to the NHS" and ambulance service, acting as "flying ambulances and transporters, flying supplies and personnel".

They will cover a population of more than 4.5 million people across Devon, Cornwall, Dorset, Bristol, Somerset, the Isles of Scilly and the Channel Islands.

Merlin heliopter
RNAS Culdrose

Cornwall GPs adapt to 'steep learning curve'

BBC Radio Cornwall

GPs in Cornwall are adapting to working under the coronavirus conditions by holding meetings by video link.

They're asking patients to make contact online and in some cases even send in photos to help with diagnosis.

It's a very challenging time, I would say, it's something we've never experienced before and we are on a very, very steep learning curve. But, we've all got amazing staff in all our surgeries, the public have been absolutely incredible in supporting us. So it's challenging but at the same time it's actually very inspiring to work in east Cornwall in general practice.

Dr Penny AtkinsonWorks in Liskeard

Rescue for Brits stuck in India 'too little, too late'

Johanna Carr

BBC News Online

Darren and Alex
Darren Turner

British tourists trapped in India have called on the government to act quickly to bring people home.

Darren Turner, 34, from Torpoint, and Alex Ainley, 36, travelled to northern India to take part in a four-week yoga course at the beginning of March.

They have not been able to leave the yoga school since last Saturday and Mr Turner said: "It has been a very scary time."

The Foreign Office said it was "working around the clock" to support tourists.

Cornwall launches online death registration

Claire Gilbody-Dickerson

BBC News

Cornwall Council has implemented emergency legislation for all future deaths to be logged via mobile devices as offices are now closed.

The local authority said the offices would, however, open for existing appointments.

People will now "until further notice" be able to request the registration of a death through an online form on the council website or by phoning 0300 1234 181 (Monday to Friday 8:30am to 6:00pm).

All other registration services have been suspended.

No more birth registrations will be taken but the council highlighted how child benefits could now be applied for ahead of registration.

In regards to marriages and civil partnerships, the council said it was in touch with couples to discuss their options, "but we have over 3,000 bookings so there is a backlog". No new booking for either functions will be taken until the displaced ones have been rescheduled.

The council urged the public to email them at ceremonies@cornwall.gov.uk, but warned there may be a delay in response "at this busy time".

Police chief urges tourists to stay away from South West

The Devon and Cornwall Chief Constable, Shaun Sawyer, has made a direct plea to holidaymakers to stay away from the South West of England during Easter.

He said visitors would be welcome to Devon and Cornwall when the current crisis was over but for the time being people should stay in their own homes.

Chief Constable, Shaun Sawyer
BBC

My message to you right now is please do not come. Whilst coronavirus is with us, it is essential that you stay at home to keep your loved ones safe, and that we stay at home. We have restrictions here, on the people who live here."

Shaun SawyerChief Constable, Devon & Cornwall Police

'Don't be alarmed' by ambulance staff in PPE

Chris Quevatre

BBC News Online

The ambulance service wants to reassure members of the public who see their staff responding to calls in personal protective equipment.

The South West Ambulance Service Trust said it did not mean they thought someone had coronvirus, they were just being "as careful as possible for everyone's safety".

Staff member wearing PPE
South Western Ambulance Service Trust

A spokesperson said: "You may see more of our staff wearing surgical masks and disposal aprons along with other Personal Protective Equipment when they respond to a 999 call.

"Please don’t be alarmed, we are simply doing everything we can to protect our staff and our patients as much as possible."

Staff member wearing PPE
South Western Ambulance Service Trust
As people stay home, areas that would be packed on a sunny day are nearly empty.
As people stay home, areas that would be packed on a sunny day have been nearly empty.

D-Day veteran in isolation says his 'mind is free'

BBC Breakfast

Harry Billinge on Gold Beach, Normandy in 2018
PA Media

Speaking to BBC Breakfast from his home in Cornwall 94-year-old Harry Billinge said of his self-isolation: "I don't mind, my mind is free, I can be anywhere."

Of coronavirus he said: "Well it's evil. It's a very good thing to draw people together and realise that we don't live just for ourselves but for other people.

"Marvellous really that people have rallied round. It's like the war years."

New bus routes to 'protect the NHS'

Richard Whitehouse

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Cornwall council bus
Cornwall Council

New emergency bus routes have been implemented after the number of people using public transport has dropped heavily.

Cornwall Council and First Kernow have prioritised services which provide transport to key workers and to essential services such as supermarkets and hospitals.

The council has been working with bus operators to ensure a service can continue to be run despite passenger numbers falling to less than 10% of the normal levels.

Geoff Brown, Cabinet member for transport, said: “The focus for our public bus services is on getting key workers to work and back home again.

He said it is "not viable" to operate a full public bus network, but instead local buses "will be designed to help protect the NHS at this unprecedented time".

Police responding to reports of 'self-policing'

BBC Radio Devon

The police are receiving calls from people conducting "self-policing" and reporting others who are allegedly breaching the social distancing guidelines set out by the government.

Devon and Cornwall Police say over the weekend, the vast majority of people stuck to the call to stay at home - but there were some exceptions.

Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer said officers would act if they heard about shops opening or people gathering in groups.

He said: "We do get the calls off people who are frustrated seeing gatherings.

"We will respond to that, not as a blue light response but we will deal with it."

He said the force would go to the reported spot if it is "appropriate", but "assess" it alongside what else the force is dealing with at that time.

Volunteers deliver 200+ food parcels to the vulnerable

Volunteers teamed up to pack and deliver more than 200 food parcels to vulnerable people in Cornwall.

CORMAC, a highways, engineering and construction firm, worked with Cornwall Housing and Cornwall Council to help vulnerable people from Penzance to Bude.

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Lovely card delivered to South Western Ambulance staff

Well done Millie, Kyla and Pippa for sending this card - it's a real hoot!

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D-Day veteran says people have a lot 'to be thankful for'

Harry Billinge
Normandy Memorial Trust/PA Wire

D-Day veteran, Harry Billinge who is in self-isolation has asked people to remember that "you've got a lot to be thankful for".

The 94-year-old who recently became an MBE, has raised more than £250,000 towards the cost of building a war memorial honouring his fallen comrades.

He said people need to "just keep going" and "remember the good days".

Over 70s have been asked by the government to stay at home to protect themselves from the coronavirus.

"I hope you won't get worried" about staying in, the veteran from St Austell, Cornwall added.

Fruit and veg pickers needed to keep food supply going

Rebecca Wills

BBC South West

Strawberries
Getty Images

An MP is encouraging people to work as fruit and vegetable pickers, to keep the supply of food going during the coronavirus pandemic

Travel and movement restrictions caused by the pandemic have left a "serious labour shortage" as the picking season starts.

The British Growers Association says farmers need 70,000 pickers nationally, but there are fears farmers will struggle with recruitment as most of the work is usually carried out by seasonal migrant workers.

George Eustice, the Environment Secretary and Cornish MP, said recruitment efforts are already under way by the industry, but he's encouraging as many people as possible to sign up for jobs.

The key workers will still adhere to social distancing rules in the fields.

The National Farmer's Union (NFU) said temporary workers would "contribute to the health of the nation".

'Cease controlled burns' during coronavirus pandemic

Twitter

A fire station is asking people to not have any controlled fires or bonfires, after it spent the weekend dealing with fires that got out of control.

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Suspects arrested showing coronavirus symptoms

A top police officer has said some people with symptoms of the virus have been arrested in Cornwall.

Some suspects arrested recently for GBH, drink-driving and assaulting a police officer have shown symptoms of coronavirus, said Chief Superintendent, Ian Drummond-Smith.

"Don’t be fooled into thinking demand will subside during #coronalockdownuk."

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Domestic abuse fear in coronavirus clampdown

Devon and Cornwall Police and victim support agencies are warning that more people may experience domestic abuse, as we are encouraged to self-isolate at home.

Abuse generic
Getty Images

But they're keen to reassure communities that victims will still have access to support services.

Supt Sharon Donald, from Devon & Cornwall Police, said: “Sadly, as schools close and home working is encouraged, Covid-19 may cause a rise in domestic abuse."

Live Chat is a web-based support service that will be available to victims in Devon and Cornwall 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The service is anonymous, confidential and free to use. To access it visit Victim Support or Victim Care.

Victim Support will still offer telephone support on 0808 031 8178.

In addition to the web chat facility, other channels for victim support are still available.

Victim Care can be contacted on 01392 475900 from 08:00 to 20:00 on Monday to Friday and 09:00 to 17:00 at the weekend.

Three more people die of coronavirus in Devon

BBC Radio Devon

A further three people have died in Devon after testing positive for coronavirus.

Coronavirus
BBC

Latest figures show two people died at Torbay Hospital on Saturday and one person died at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital on Friday.

The total number of deaths in Devon now stands at 12 and seven in Cornwall.

Staying 'local' could save lives, says police chief

BBC Spotlight

Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer
BBC

A police chief has spoken out to try and urge people to stay "local" this weekend and save lives.

Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer told the BBC he could not have "1.7 million adults and children deciding this weekend to drive to beauty spots and beaches".

He is asking people not to drive anywhere this weekend unless it is necessary and to not drive somewhere for their session of exercise.

"Local means local - stay local at home and stay socially responsible. This is about saving human lives, it's that serious.

"If you're driving somewhere, that is not in the spirit of what is intended."

The chief constable said he was "concerned" about maintaining law and order during this time.

"The day that I issue a ticket or have to arrest people... is a very sad day. If it's needed I will do it, but I want that to be our last resort, not out first."

Delivering glasses to the vulnerable

Charley Adams

BBC News Online

Adam Matthews
Matthews Opticians & Hearing Care

An opticians has been delivering glasses and prescriptions to vulnerable people who are unable to leave their homes due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Matthews Opticians and Hearing Care in Helston, Cornwall, has been providing free delivery in and around the area to people who are unable to collect their glasses.

Director Adam Matthews said the surgery is also providing glasses for essential workers or those in isolation who would be "vulnerable" without their glasses.

In isolation "patients are relying more heavily on their senses" he said.

"We had to get some sort of way of getting these glasses out."

Adam Matthews
Matthews Opticians & Hearing Care

Urgent recruitment drive for Cornwall carers

Johanna Carr

BBC News Online

Cornwall Council is leading an urgent recruitment drive for carers to work looking after some of the region's most vulnerable people during the coronavirus crisis.

The local authority said it was mobilising as many workers as it could spare but said more people would be needed.

Councillor Rob Rotchell said: "We are currently in the process of increasing the capacity of beds in our care sector to make sure that people are able to leave hospital much quicker."

Carer
BBC

Mr Rotchell said 30 employees from the council-owned company Corserv had already been redeployed and more would join them next week.

He said: “We now need as many people in Cornwall as possible to think about how they can help.

"A large number of people have already registered their interest and availability to help with Volunteer Cornwall, which is great to see, and we are working closely with them to see how many of those people could help in the care sector, with many paid roles available.

"We are now asking any of you who are currently unemployed or have time to spare to think about whether you could help people in their time of need.

"There is also a strong message for anyone who has worked in care before, now is the time to rejoin. We need you.”

To find out more go to www.proudtocarecornwall.org.uk.

Officers redeployed to frontline policing

Johanna Carr

BBC News Online

Devon and Cornwall Police is redeploying staff to frontline policing as part of its response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The force said 125 officers had so far been redeployed from back office roles including 40 who would be handling phone calls and sergeants being given custody training.

Police cars
BBC

Devon and Cornwall Police said more incidents would be handled over the phone to reduce the risk to staff and the public of spreading the virus.

The public were asked to be patient as the force may take more time to follow up reports relating to lower-level crimes but the force said there were "no types of crime which we will not respond to or log and we will not stop arresting people".

Since the stay at home measures were introduced the force said it had seen a significant reduction in reports of some crimes, such as those related to the evening and night-time economy and motoring, while domestic abuse had increased.

A spokesman said: “Requests for police attendance and the investigations of crimes will be ranked on a basis of the threat, risk and harm and will be responded to proportionately.

“When policing is under strain, from either demand or capacity issues, some services will have to be reduced – such as historic investigations that have a low risk attached to them.

"We will always focus on core policing and serious and violent crime.”

Members of the public are asked to think twice before they contact the force so officers are able to respond to the most pressing matters.

Coronavirus: Summer weather may change spread of virus

David Braine

Weather Forecaster

We have had several emails asking if the weather or climate can affect the spread or severity of coronavirus and whilst information on this new disease is very sparse we can look at how the weather has affected similar viruses in the past and try to make some observations.

Coronavirus graphic
BBC

Covid-19 is a respiratory disease that moves from human to human in a similar way to other viruses such as seasonal flu or coughs and colds, it is spread in mucous or water droplets from coughs, sneezes, and breathing from one person to another, and there are a variety of theories as to how long it can survive on a surface outside of the human body.

Seasonal flu or influenza has affected the human population for thousands of years, typically being more virulent in the world’s temperate regions, and more specifically in the winter months of both the northern and southern hemispheres.

There is evidence that seasonal flu has a harder time spreading in hot dry countries, where the viruses living outside of the body struggle with high temperature and arid environments.

There are some studies from scientists from universities in China, who have examined how the coronavirus has been transmitted in several Chinese cities, and have concluded that “high temperature and high relative humidity significantly reduce the transmission of Covid-19”.

The research also suggests that, as with many viruses, it may transmit more effectively between humans when humidity is low and the temperature is between 5C (41F) and 11C (52F).

At the moment the areas most affected by coronavirus lie between 30-50 degrees north of the equator and, as with seasonal flu, spring and summer could reduce the infection rate with higher temperatures and more UV light, which is known to have an effect on similar viruses.

No one has the answers as to what weather type can help or reduce the spread of Covid-19 but there are similarities to how seasonal flu behaves and there seem to be three critical factors:

  • Viruses live well within the body at approximately 37C (99F) - normal body temperature. During a fever the virus can be killed which is the body’s response to the infection, normal flu viruses survive and transmit better outside the human body at a much lower temperature and level of humidity.
  • Those who live in temperate regions tend to spend a lot of the winter time indoors and in close proximity to each other thus aiding the spread of viruses
  • Vitamin D may play a part in the human immune system to fight viruses, in winter time when the sun is low in temperate regions and people spend more time indoors they typically get less sunshine and therefore make less vitamin D, and that might reduce the immune system.

There are no clear answers as to whether Covid-19 conforms to other types of virus that we know more about, and how much impact the weather will have on it, but sunshine does bring benefits to the immune system in the production of vitamin D, and a higher temperature may help control the survivability of the virus on surfaces.

So heading into spring and summer the sunshine may have an impact on the virus and how we cope with it.

Council supports crisis groups under huge demand

Charley Adams

BBC News Online

Cornwall Council has contributed £100,000 to support community groups, which are in high demand due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Council staff have been working with the community and voluntary sector to help the residents of Cornwall who are most vulnerable during the crisis.

As a priority, staff have been working with central government and local partners to ensure community hubs are ready to respond where needed.

As the pandemic has developed, the council has seen huge demands placed on crisis groups such as Foodbank, homeless shelters and soup kitchens.

To help ensure these groups can continue to support vulnerable residents, Cornwall Council has contributed money to Cornwall Community Foundation’s Cornwall Coronavirus Emergency Appeal.

The foundation has taken a lead role in providing crisis support, offering small grants of £500 to £3,000 to organisations in Cornwall, to cover the additional costs of supporting people during the coronavirus crisis.

Domestic abuse campaign launched

Twitter

A new campaign has been launched to tackle domestic abuse as cases are expected to increase due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The aim of the campaign is to raise awareness and reassure victims that they will still have access to support services during the pandemic.

Police and victim support services have warned that domestic abuse may increase due to restrictions to tackle the coronavirus outbreak.

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Police target beauty spots in push for exercising locally

Adam Durbin

BBC News Online

Police will be visiting "beauty spots" across the south west to inform people they must exercise in their local area, senior police officers have said.

Ch Supt Ian Drummond-Smith said officers would be patrolling beaches to "ensure everyone is following the new rules", following reports of "large gatherings" on Thursday.

The move follows the emergency legislation passed by parliament, but the legal status of driving to exercise remains unclear.

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Supt Adrian Leisk tweeted that officers would be visiting beaches and car parks today to "reinforce" the message that people should not drive for their exercise.

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Ever fancied putting the bins out in your ballgown?

Emma Thomasson

BBC Spotlight

Have you ever thought about doing the ironing in a party frock or mowing the lawn in a tuxedo?

Amid restrictions on movement - people are staying at home and wearing their finest clothes.

Dressing up at home is the new going out.

The "Put your bins out in your ballgown" group started in Cornwall...

Council leader warns of 'significant number of deaths'

Johanna Carr

BBC News Online

The leader of Cornwall Council has warned the authority is preparing for a "significant numbers of deaths in Cornwall" due to coronavirus.

Julian German said the council was making preparations in cemeteries for burials and setting up a temporary mortuary "to cope with additional pressure on the system".

He said: "We are making these arrangements in a calm and measured way and are not proposing to give further details at this time. However we would stress the gravity of these preparatory actions reinforces the message to all of our communities of the importance of observing social distancing."

Mr German said people should follow government instructions and stay at home unless absolutely necessary.

Council urges people to stay vigilant on beaches

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On their Facebook page Penzance Police warned driving to exercise at another location was not an essential journey.

Cornwall business grants 'to be paid in April'

Johanna Carr

BBC News Online

Grants of up to £25,000 will be paid to Cornish businesses in April to help them through the coronavirus pandemic.

Cornwall Council said it would be contacting more than 25,000 Cornish businesses which are eligible for the government's financial support packages.

The local authority said it expects to receive the grant funding in early April and will make the cash immediately available to struggling businesses.

The council said there was no need to apply for the money and its staff would be in touch to check or obtain bank details.

Council leader Julian German said: “We are committed to helping our residents and businesses through this crisis."

County Hall
BBC

The following grants will be made available:

The Small Business Grant Fund will be available for those in receipt of Small Business Rate Relief or Rural Rate Relief. About 19,500 Businesses will receive £10,000.

The Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant will be available to about 5,600 businesses in receipt of the Expanded Retail Discount:

  • Rateable value over £15,000 to £51,000 will receive a grant of £25,000
  • Businesses with a rateable value over £51,000 are not eligible
  • Rateable value up to and including £15,000 will receive a grant of £10,000

Police appeal for past employees to get in touch

Johanna Carr

BBC News Online

Devon and Cornwall Police is appealing for anyone who has previously worked for them to get in touch by 17:00 on Thursday.

People willing to offer their skills to help the fight against coronavirus are asked to email COVID19-Resiliencebank@dorset.pnn.police.uk.

Dorset Police is co-ordinating the response for both forces.

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Clap for our Carers at 20:00

Adam Durbin

BBC News Online

Medical staff holding signs
Samantha Rowe

People in the south west are being asked to take part in a collective round of applause to show their appreciation for all those working to fight the spread of coronavirus.

The picture above shows Derriford Hospital staff on Brent Ward holding up the message 'We stay here for you, please stay home for us'.

The Clap for our Carers campaign has organised for people across the UK to go outside and applaud health and social care workers together on Thursday at 20:00.

Please send us any video or pictures of yourselves or your friends and family via facebook or email at spotlight@bbc.co.uk

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Newquay airport 'temporarily' closed

Adam Durbin

BBC News Online

Newquay Airport
BBC

Newquay airport has been "temporarily" closed with all scheduled flights suspended, the airport has announced.

The aerodrome will stay open to support "vital services", including Cornwall Air Ambulance, HM Coastguard Search and Rescue and military operations.

Staff will be redeployed throughout Cornwall "where possible" to support the wider response to the coronavirus pandemic, the airport said.