Remaining cautious – lockdown easing

By David Gledhill, Marketing & Communications Lead

You could be forgiven for thinking that lockdown is over, judging by the crowds bustling on our high streets and milling around our seafront.

Tourists are back in huge numbers, and our first taste of summer sunshine sent everyone back to the beach and open areas across the Bay. Pub gardens and restaurant terraces were full to overflowing, and smiles were back on faces.

Do not be fooled; lockdown has not ended, it has merely eased, and the watchword remains – caution. The new Delta variant is ravaging some towns and cities in the UK, though it is still thankfully relatively rare here in the South West.

That is not to say that COVID has gone away; on the contrary, Torbay has seen a slight rise in the number of cases over the last few weeks, though it does remain well below the national average. However, there are 18 cases of COvID, including 14 cases of the new Delta (Indian) variant in the Bay and 100 cases of it in Devon.

And because we do not know as we walk around the Bay where our visitors hail from, we must remain vigilant and take the same precautions that we have observed for the last 15 months – hands, face, space.

We remain at risk even though 80% of the adult population of the Bay have now received their first jabs – that is 108,000 people. Even better news is that 67% have also received their second jabs, which amounts to around 90,450 of all adults.

Worryingly at this stage, nothing is guaranteed which is why we need to remain vigilant. Friends, albeit not from the Bay, but London were shocked to discover last week that the new variant had infected their young teenage daughter and she passed it on to her parents – both of whom had been double vaccinated and one of whom had the original strain last year.

So as frustrating as it may be, we are not out of the woods yet and whilst some people bemoan the fact that full easing of restrictions which was meant to come into effect on the first day of Summer, June 21st, we have to be patient until at least July 19th.

Thankfully that gives us more time to keep working on vaccinations at the Riviera Centre in Torquay and at the Brixham Rugby Club in the hope that we can get as close to 100% of our adult population vaccinated as quickly as possible.

This week our volunteers and NHS staff have been working hard with extra sessions at both centres to up the ante on second vaccinations and, for the first time, to deliver vaccinations to 18 to 26-year-olds.

Our marshals have been doing a sterling job – out in all weathers come rain or shine (mostly rain this week) to ensure the smooth running of both vaccination centres and to reassure some who are nervous or worried.

We are so close, but we still need volunteers to come forward for the final push, so if you can spare a few hours during the week or on Saturdays then please do not hesitate – ring the Helpline on 01803 446022 to register your interest and join our hardworking, cheerful team.

We do not yet know what the future holds as talk among health professionals swirls around the likelihood of more injections later in the year, but for now, we have to concentrate on the immediate future and doing whatever it takes now to stay healthy and safe.

The streets might look busy, but some residents continue to isolate themselves and are reluctant to return to ‘normal’ regardless of rules and restrictions announced by the Government and the science. They are holding their own counsel and we must respect that.

But that means some of our friends and neighbours still need our support and may well do for some time to come. So please, don’t stop checking in, knock on that door, ring that phone number.

The Torbay Community Helpline is now a permanent fixture and is there to help with all kinds of things from mental health to housing, from adult social care to financial support. One call, that’s all.

This crisis is not over, not by a long chalk, but we are doing the best we can and we are lucky to live here in the Bay where there is an abundance of #Torbaykindness.