The latest stage in easing the lockdown went ahead this week as non-essential shops in our Bay can now re-open, bringing some welcome relief to many local businesses who have suffered over recent weeks.

This means the biggest part of Torbay’s recovery is next: the re-opening of our Bay to tourists and welcoming back many visitors to our attractions, holiday parks, B&Bs and hotels.

There was a huge team effort to tackle the virus, with our Bay being one of the least affected nationally despite being one of the first places affected.

Now we need to turn this effort to our recovery plans.

Previous relaxations prompted some to swiftly make dire predictions on social media, yet the tiny number of cases across Devon and Cornwall in recent weeks has shown with appropriate social distancing measures, plus enhanced testing and tracing regimes, we can both restart our economy and keep infection rates down.

This cannot just be about businesses, Torbay Council and the Government ensuring appropriate measures are in place, but our whole community saying ‘Welcome Back’ to those whose custom will not only ensure many family and independent businesses survive, but many of our friends and neighbours keep their jobs.

CAMPER VANS ON CORBYN HEAD

One not-so-welcome return has been of travellers setting up illegal encampments.

Like most, I was stunned to see the brazen rule breaking by those using motorhomes to spend the night on Corbyn Head.

Several residents emailed me about it and I raised the issue with our Police and Crime Commissioner, Alison Hernandez.

This, along with the issues at Goodrington, again reinforces the need to give our police powers to ensure such encampments can be dealt with quickly and well-intentioned welfare provisions cannot be abused by those parking up for what is a regular holiday trip.

The law was changed a few years ago in the Republic of Ireland and the UK should follow suit.

PAIGNTON ZOO

I am a big fan of Paignton Zoo and have been since first visiting as a child back in the 1980s.

The ability to see animals up close and understand their behaviours throughout different seasons is an experience which compliments, but cannot be replaced, by the type of wildlife and environmental documentaries we can now see at home on the television.

In recent decades zoos, especially Paignton Zoo, have transformed their role from just being a place of entertainment to a vital safety net for some of the most endangered species from extinction.

Further support will be needed from Government to ensure Covid-19 does not see zoos themselves become an endangered species.

SURGERY TIMES

Based on current advice relating to coronavirus, I have cancelled my regular advice surgeries and drop-in sessions at my East Street office until further notice.

I hope to restart them as soon as possible but, in the meantime, a telephone call surgery appointment can be arranged.

You can call and leave a message on 01803 214989 and we will get back to you as quickly as possible.

I also run a weekly update service via email about my work in parliament and here in the Bay. You can join the list to receive it by emailing me at kevin@kevinjfoster.com with the word ‘subscribe’ in the subject line.