Keeping safe this Christmas

By David Gledhill, Marketing & Communications Lead

At last some seemingly good news about the coronavirus pandemic, with hopes being pinned on a vaccine being available within months.

It can’t come too soon for most of us who have been in and out of lockdown for the last eight months, but it won’t be in time for Christmas and that is depressing news for many.

No-one can say for sure, but no matter what the Government says, for most of us Christmas will be a muted affair with limited numbers around the traditional dinner table and even fewer playing festive games.

None of us have a crystal ball, but unless the figures here in the Bay start to go down quickly, then we may well be faced with further restrictions after the second lockdown is lifted elsewhere.

Across the Bay, the figures have been rising in the last few weeks at much faster rates than were witnessed during the first lockdown. In some communities, the incidence of illness is now so high that almost everyone knows someone who is affected.

In Brixham, where the statistics rocketed to astronomical levels, making it one of the worst hotspots in the whole of the south west, friends and neighbours have been swapping horrific tales about those suffering the brunt of it.

Suddenly across the Bay it is no longer a virus that affects others, it is affecting us and the consequences of our own actions are plain to see – it isn’t just the infection  statistics that are rising – so are the numbers of people in hospital.

Thankfully the majority survive, but that is not true of everyone and inevitably the other statistic that is on the increase is the one concerning the number of deaths.

Nowadays the majority of us know someone that either has Covid or has had it, and it is difficult to share a conversation without the subject coming up and without another sad story being shared.

Like a group of friends in the Bay who decided to ignore the guidance and six of them got together for a social gathering not knowing that one of them was carrying the virus or so the story goes.

They took it home with them to their spouses and as a result, three were ill enough to be hospitalised and one tragically died. The harshest lesson of them all, but one that shows only too clearly that none of us are immune and that you can’t always spot the carrier.

During the first lockdown the majority of people followed the guidance to the letter, but this time around there appears to be confusion about exactly what is allowed and who is allowed to do it.

Some people are still attending workplaces, and students are still going to school and social media has been alive with misleading facts and bold assertions based on myths.

In some areas, people have been quick to blame tourists, although there is no evidence to support it. Others are blaming young people for bringing it home from school, but again there is no evidence.

The real evidence points at people becoming careless and breaking the relatively simple rules of keeping your distance, not mixing in each other’s homes, wearing masks and hand sanitising.

The message this time is straight forward, but it needs to be followed at all times – hands, face and space. Wash your hands, cover your face and make sure you have space wherever you are.

We are all in this together and our actions can have dire consequences, and the worst thing is, we might never know the people that suffer those consequences.

We need to look out for each other, we need to continue to support our neighbours and we need to make sure that our community is doing all it can for the most vulnerable within it.

Calls to the Torbay Community Helpline continue to come in at a rate of up to 55 a day and, so far, we have been in touch with more than 4,500 people.

As we build towards an uncertain Christmas, we will continue to be there for everyone, whether we are ensuring no-one goes hungry or making sure that no-one is left lonely and isolated.

Christmas this year may well turn out to be a memorable one, but let’s try very hard to make sure, that no matter what restrictions are in place, we all make it memorable for the right reasons – because we all looked out for each other and helped beat this dreadful virus.