By David Gledhill, Marketing & Communications Lead
How has it been for you – the first ten days with far fewer restrictions?
For most, it has been a welcome relief – freedom of movement at last without legal restrictions – the chance to get out and about again in what for the most part has been glorious sunshine.
But others quite rightly remain cautious, choosing instead to take a sensible approach, keeping away from crowded areas, maintaining social distancing and wearing a mask when outside the home.
There are, however, still a significant number of people who remain afraid and are opting to stay within their own property boundaries for the time being as numbers of cases in the Bay continue to rise.
All of which makes the name Freedom Day something of a misnomer and might lead us all into thinking that the nightmare is finally over. It isn’t and it is up to each and every one of us to continue to take precautions.
As of Monday of this week, there were 716 people per 100,000 in the Bay with the virus – way above the national average of 502 and in the same week there was a total of 976 cases, 350 up on the previous week.
To put that into perspective, at the peak last October into November, cases were running below 400. So far, since the pandemic began back in February 2020, 6,723 people in the Bay have had the virus – that is five per cent of the population and those are just the ones we know about.
And let us not forget the 168 people who have died.
Having said all of that, there is some good news beginning to filter through, and we all need some good news; the national trend of coronavirus cases is finally slowing, so we can only hope that the same happens here.
Vaccinations have meant that despite the seemingly horrific figures, few people are being hospitalised and symptoms are generally milder for those that do contract the virus.
In Torbay now, 85% of the adult population have received their first jab and 71% have received both. Whilst that is good and better than many parts of the country, that means there is still a way to go and we need to concentrate our efforts on persuading younger people to come forward.
If you know of someone that has yet to take advantage of the vaccinations on offer there are walk-in clinics today and Friday. There is no need to book, just turn up at the Riviera Centre in Torquay between 9am and 4pm.
Being vaccinated is not just about you, it is about everyone that you come into contact with, so please if in doubt do it for your family, your friends, your neighbours and even strangers in the street.
It is easy at times like this to blame others for what is happening, particularly tourists, but Torbay’s Public Health Director, Dr Lincoln Sargeant is clear that they are not the root of the problem, the virus is being transmitted in families and wider social groups.
Its impact is far-reaching – one estimate put the number of businesses in the Bay that have had to close because of COVID as one in ten – and that at the peak of an unprecedented holiday season boosted by staycationers.
We are working hard behind the scenes to get as many things back up and running in as safe a way as possible with indoor and outdoor events across the Bay, all organised with COVID security in mind. Check with your Community Builder to find out more.
Our call handlers on the Torbay Community Helpline – One Call, That’s All – on 01803 446022 are also continuing to deal with the fallout from the pandemic with calls from people that are still directly affected.
In particular, we have sadly been kept busy with calls from people whose mental health is suffering, from people who need financial advice, because they can no longer make ends meet and from people who need food parcels because they can no longer afford to put food on the family table.
It has been, at times, a tortuous sixteen months, but if we all continue to work together, then we might, just might be finally turning the corner and whilst we can never put all this behind us – COVID in one form or another will likely be with us forever – but at least we can come out of crisis mode.