By David Gledhill, Marketing & Communications Lead

Some called it Freedom Day. But is it for everybody?

Cases are spiralling, reaching heights never see in the Bay before – not even during the spikes of Oct and Nov 2020 when the highest we saw was below 400 per one hundred thousand people

Now they are running at 458 per one hundred thousand, but there is a major difference – vaccines mean far fewer serious illnesses and therefore fewer hospitalisations.

But and this a big but – this time it is the young who are bearing the brunt, and that means an already creaking hospitality sector on which we depend so heavily is now at breaking point, just when we need it most.

There is also the issue of Ling Covid that we are struggling to learn more about and clinics are being set up across the region to investigate this phenomenon which is no respecter of age or class.

All of which means that for many ‘Freedom Day’ has a hollow ring to it and instead of rushing out to embrace the new ‘normal’ they are retreating once again behind closed doors.

Torbay’s Public Health Director, Dr Lincoln Sargeant, has been unequivocal about the need for everybody to stay safe and to take a cautious approach to their newfound freedoms.

The advice is simple – keep on doing what you have been doing for the last 16 months, being sensible – wearing masks when appropriate, keeping a safe distance and hand washing.

As before, you do not always know if someone else has the virus and you could yourself be in the unenviable position of unwittingly passing on the virus to someone you may never properly meet,

There are still more than 4,000 vulnerable people in Torbay and for them, particularly those with pre-existing conditions the threat of the virus and its effects remains a constant threat, vaccine or no vaccine.

Younger people in the Bay’s population appear reluctant to come forward for their vaccinations having read unfounded negative messages on social media, but it is important that they do get the injections as much for their families as for themselves.

The consensus seems to suggest that the spread of the virus will continue to get worse in the coming weeks before; hopefully, it slows down. But none of us knows what the Winter will bring.

Carefree holidaymakers are flooding into the Bay to coincide with the start of the school holidays and for that reason, we must all take personal responsibility in the fight against the virus.

The track and trace app remains switched on and scanning, and is a good way of finding out if you have had a close call and need to isolate as a precaution.

Most importantly we need to respect how our neighbours, friends and even strangers choose to deal with coming out and give them the space that they feel they need to continue to maintain.

The Torbay Community Helpline on 01803 446022 continues to take calls from worried people and our call handlers continue to be on hand to offer practical and emotional support on a whole range of subjects. One Call, That’s All and if they do not know the answer to your question, they will find it.

For those who have not yet had a vaccination for whatever reason, there are walk-in sessions where no appointment is necessary over the next two weeks at the Riviera Centre in Torquay

  • Thursday 22 July: 9am to 4pm
  • Wednesday 28 July: 9am to 4pm
  • Friday 30th July: 9am to 4pm

Dr Sargeant is quite clear that if we are going to continue to beat the virus, we all need to:

  • Get both vaccines as soon as you can (eight weeks apart). Book online via your GP or attend a walk-in session (see above)
  • Meet in small groups, in socially distanced households and outside wherever possible
  • Stay working from home if you can
  • Get tested regularly; everyone can get a free twice-weekly test
  • Always get a PCR test if you think you have symptoms
  • Keep thinking hands, face, space and fresh air

The fight is not over and we must all unite to get through the next crucial stages if we are to get on top of it before Winter.