Perhaps my favourite August activity most years is to pitch up on Torre Abbey Sands on a summer’s evening and feel the cool kiss of the waves as I enter the water and enjoy the experience of being immersed in the sea.
Normally, you can catch the whiff of candyfloss and hear the screams from the fair on Torre Abbey meadows, but as with many experiences in our lives this summer, it is all somewhat changed as no fair is being held on the meadows this year.
As a council we decided not to have a 2020 fair. This was primarily to allow space for those wishing to use the beach but finding high tide during the day limiting the space needed for the social distancing we now abide by.
In addition to this, we also had concerns that the fair could prove to be a hotspot for transmission of the disease and we didn’t want council land to become such a source of danger to the community.
With the fair now located in Churston for the season and many of our great attractions now open, it’s good to see so many people supporting our tourism industry this summer, but I know that the increasing number of people visiting Torbay is a cause of concern for many.
We’ve all witnessed groups of individuals not following the current guidelines – whether it’s standing too close to each other, being out in large groups or disregarding other public health guidance.
As a council, we are doing all we can with our partners to encourage people to stay safe and to respect this guidance, by means of social media, signage and working with individual businesses to help them be Covid-compliant.
We want to encourage people to visit the English Riviera in a safe and responsible way.
It’s heartening to hear that as I put pen to paper we still have relatively low rates of infection in Torbay compared with the national figures.
As of August 9, we had a rate of 1.5 for every 100,000 population, compared with 4.6 in the South West and 10.0 in England. Devon is even lower with a rate of 1.0 cases per 100,000 population.
These figures are changing regularly and are now being posted on our website at https://www.torbay.gov.uk/health-and-wellbeing/public-health/coronavirus/coronavirus-reports
While social distancing outdoors is important, we need to bear in mind that the real hotspot for transmission of the virus is indoors.
It’s easy to become complacent, so my plea to you all is to remember to maintain good hand hygiene, to observe social distancing and to wear a face covering when appropriate.
During the lockdown in the pandemic a lot of people in our communities in Torbay stepped up to the mark to help people in need across the area.
We need to build on this sense of greater mutual support in the Bay.
In our cabinet meeting last week, we discussed the amended adult social care delivery plan which takes into account this new spirit of mutual support during Covid-19.
Proposals to use the adult social care precept were outlined to the council earlier in 2020, and included a commitment to invest the precept in a range of community-focussed projects.
This investment during lockdown has demonstrated that we can deliver significant benefit to people’s wellbeing which will, in turn, support wider prevention and wellbeing priorities.
Priorities such as mental health, food poverty and information and advice are emerging from our new partnership during this period and will be key features of a new approach to community support.
We will also consider extending the Torbay (Coronavirus) Helpline and consider emerging proposals to invest and support the Torbay and community development model.
In addition, we will focus on the community builders and how we can continue this function in the Bay – enabling us to engage with vital ‘grass roots’ community projects.