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RAF reservists set up drive-in treatment tent

Reservists setting up the medical tent
Newquay Health Centre

RAF reservists have set up a drive-in treatment tent at a health centre in Cornwall to allow vulnerable patients to limit their exposure to Covid-19.

Volunteers from 505 Wessex Squadron built the temporary clinic at Newquay Health Centre, which allows patients to remain in their cars while being checked by medical staff.

Dr Rutesh Patel said the facilities were vital to protecting vulnerable patients, particularly those who are "over-70, with irregular heart rhythms" and on blood-thinning medication.

Dr Patel (pictured) said: "By them being able to drive in, stay in their cars and pop their hand out of the window to have this finger prick blood test means they are limiting their exposure and risk."

Dr Rutash Patel in front of the tent while a nurse treates a patient.

Sqn Ldr David Mann said there was a "major drive" for military reservists to provide national and community assistance.

He said: "We're looking at mobilising up to 3,000 reservists across the armed forces to help with formal taskings.

"But where if possible as well we can help our neighbors in the local community."

Military truck next to temporary treatment tent and crates.
Newquay Health Centre

Holidaymakers told to 'pack up and go home'

Adam Durbin

BBC News Online

Cornwall Council is trying to make sure holidaymakers are "'packed up" and on the way home.

The authority said it was investigating hundreds of calls and emails from people angry with visitors arriving in the county.

Public protection teams are contacting holiday home owners, campsites and tourists to ensure they return home.

Aerial picture of Polperro

Councillor Rob Nolan said: "We've spoken to a lot of people, it's mostly Airbnb that we're getting.

"On the whole they're being very good and saying 'as soon as these people are gone we won't take any more'.

"We even had one call from a landlord himself, who said he'd asked the guests to leave and they wouldn't.

"So we sent someone down and they've packed up and gone."

Person rescued 'halfway up cliff' during lockdown

Adam Durbin

BBC News Online

Beacon Cove, Newaquay

People in the South West have been urged to stop taking part in outdoor activities after the Coastguard had to rescue a person "stuck halfway up a cliff".

HM Coastguard said emergency services' time was being wasted rescuing people who had ignored government advice.

Senior coastal operations officer Phil Davies said the agency had responded to multiple 999 calls for surfers in difficulty in the water during the lockdown.

And crews had even been forced to do a "technical rope rescue for a person stuck halfway up a cliff", he added.

Royal Navy 'bringing the beach' to people

Helicopter crews from RNAS Culdrose in Cornwall have offered to bring the beach to people with a video tour, rather than them visiting it themselves this weekend.

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'Turn around and go home'

Shaun Sawyer

People planning on heading to the South West this weekend amid the forecast warm weather should "turn around and go home", a police chief has said.

Devon and Cornwall Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer told BBC Breakfast people should "think about what you're doing" and "go back to where you need to be".

Mr Sawyer said: "If you're in your car with your caravan, your motorhome, your topbox, and the back window's full with a duvet, then turn around and go home."

He added people should "come back later", as the region will "desperately" need people to visit once it is safe.

"We never thought we'd be saying to people 'don't come'," he said.

"This will be one of the first big weekends, if we don't get it right this weekend then what are we going to do at Easter?"

Wiltshire firefighters may become temporary ambulance drivers

Ambulance staff in PPE
PA Media

Firefighters in Wiltshire have started working with the county's ambulance service to help them during the pandemic.

Fire staff are being trained to drive ambulances if South Western Ambulance Service has staff shortages over the coming months.

Chief fire officer for Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue, Ben Ansell said: "It might be that we reduce some of our fire engines in order to maintain critical emergency ambulances and have firefighters driving them as a crew of two, with a paramedic."

He added that firefighters in Chippenham were also helping ambulance staff by unpacking and assembling masks and respirators - equipment they're well used to working with.

They're also testing the PPE kit to make sure ambulance staff are being properly protected and are confident how to use it.

Delegated powers could lead to virtual planning meetings

Richard Whitehouse

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Concerns have been raised over a decision by Cornwall Council to let unelected officers decide whether developments should be granted planning permission.

Due to the coronavirus crisis the authority has scrapped all planning committee meetings and has decided instead to allow planning officers to use what are known as delegated powers to determine applications.

But councillors are concerned that this is taking out the democratic process and have called for the council to consider holding “virtual” committee meetings using video conferencing technology.

Conservative councillor Mark Formosa claimed the change in determining planning applications was “dangerous” and has launched a petition calling for a rethink. He said he was hoping it would get cross-party support.

"I consider it a very dangerous move to put all this power in the hands of a single officer, an officer who, in turn, is passing on those powers to people lower down the hierarchy," he said.

Cornwall Council said it is "working hard to keep the planning service operating effectively in the face of unprecedented challenge" and would be exploring ways to enable virtual meetings.

Cornwall Council wants information on trading holiday businesses

Johnny O'Shea

BBC News Online

Cornwall Council is asking people to contact them if they become aware of any businesses that are letting out rooms or properties, or if second home owners come on holiday.

The Government has confirmed that self-catering cottages and Airbnbs are included in a list of facilities to be closed.

It previously ordered the closure of camp sites, hotels, guesthouses and B&B’s.

Devon and Cornwall Police says it will take action against people who it considers have made non-essential journeys, such as to go on holiday.

The council said it is aware of some providers acting illegally.

Anyone with information is asked to email -

We will work closely with and support our partners in protecting the public. If people undertake non-essential travel which could include travelling to second homes then we reserve the right to take enforcement action which will be considered on a case by case basis.”

Inspector Miles TophamDevon and Cornwall Police

Devon and Cornwall Police operating with 15% less staff

Rebecca Thorn

BBC News Online

Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer says the force has a "15% vacancy factor" whilst some members of staff are forced to self-isolate during the coronavirus outbreak.

He said the number was "far more than we normally do", but assured the public this was about the national average for police forces across the country.

Officers were primarily having to self-isolate due to the health of family members, he said.

Five more deaths in Devon and Cornwall

Charley Adams

BBC News Online

A further five people who had tested positive for coronavirus in Devon and Cornwall have died, bringing the total to 49.

Latest data from the NHS shows two people have died in Cornwall, two in Plymouth and one in Exeter.

This brings the total up to 28 people in Devon and 21 people in Cornwall.

Visit Cornwall releases video urging tourists to stay away

Malcolm Bell
Visit Cornwall

Cornwall’s tourism body has released a video to encourage people not to visit the county ahead of Easter.

Visit Cornwall released the video to remind people not to travel during the coronavirus outbreak and to come back later in the year.

The video titled 'Time to Reflect' urges people to stay at home and to support health services and key workers.

Visit Cornwall chief executive Malcolm Bell said the video had been created to reinforce the message to people not to travel to Cornwall.

The government has said that only necessary travel is permitted and that going on holiday is not allowed.

The South West claps for carers

Jonathan Morris

BBC News Online

From the coasts to small villages, people came out across the South West on Thursday to clap for carers and key workers dealing with the effects of the coronavirus crisis.

People from across the South West clap for carers

Holiday lets 'continuing to trade' in Cornwall

Miles Davis

BBC News Online


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


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

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, 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

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

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


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.


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

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."


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.”

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