Coronavirus: Rural Devon with few daily cases frustrated over second lockdown

·3-min read

In this rural corner of north Devon, you can count the number of daily COVID-19 cases on one hand.

The market town of Great Torrington is technically classed as "suppressed", meaning there have been fewer than three new cases of the virus in the week ending 25 October.

That perhaps explains why stall holders in the market aren't happy about having to join the rest of England in yet another lockdown.

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"It's a hard pill to take," Spencer Taylor, a glass engraver, tells me.

"It is frustrating. The thing is we've got this virus sitting on our doorstep and we've got to tackle it the best way possible.

"When you've got areas that are really suffering with the Tier 3 lockdowns - things have to change - it has to stop really," he adds.

Angela Abram runs her craft stall opposite. She's understanding, but frustrated: "I feel it might be necessary. But it affects us who haven't had much and I don't think that's fair.

"You get people from 'up country' as we call it, who aren't adhering to what the government has asked them to do and now the rest of the country is going to suffer for it," she says.

For some, the thought of shutting everything down all over again is too much.

Lorraine Lawrence works in the greengrocers - as she tells me about having to lockdown for a second time, she gets emotional, and says she would like to keep the tiered system.

"Not the whole country. They should keep people in their own units and counties, it's just bad," she says.

"Why should you stop people going one on one to somebody when you can go into a supermarket and see hundreds and hundreds of people?"

Businesses in Great Torrington - like everywhere - are still trying to recover from lockdown number one.

The local theatre and cinema hasn't been open since 17 March - and was planning a grand-reopening this Thursday, fireworks and all.

Sophie Hatch from the Plough Arts Centre says that has now had to go on hold, yet again.

"We've been spending weeks and weeks sorting our preparation - fogging the place with the viral fogging machine," she says. "We've planned for so much, but even though it's so frustrating, at the same time we do understand."

As shops shut up for the day, Jo Treml is cashing up the till at her hairdressers, JoJo's.

I ask her how difficult it is to run a business, not knowing if you can stay open one day to the next.

"Really hard," she says. "Now we're going to have to contact all our people booked in next week, and for the next month, and tell them we've got to close."

However low or high COVID-19 rates are, places like Great Torrington will join the rest of England, as the whole country prepares to once again tackle this virus together.