1st March 2021
Torbay Council welcomes the government’s announcement to start easing Torbay out of lockdown restrictions from 8 March, with pupils returning to school and our care home residents able to nominate a visitor for regular visits. We urge our communities to remain vigilant and to rigorously follow all the restrictions still in place to protect us. The virus has not gone away and we need our cases to stay low to stay out of lockdown.
The people of Torbay have made many sacrifices to keep our cases relatively low and three lockdowns have been extremely difficult for our business community and for those living in, or with family members living in, care homes. We also recognise the enormous pressure closing schools has put on everyone involved in learning and we, along with Torbay families and school staff, are keen to see the return of our children and young people to the classroom.
We have strong relationships with our schools and colleges and are putting in place robust plans to ensure that eligible children and young people will be able to return as promptly as possible. Schools have been successfully carrying out asymptomatic testing of staff attending since January and those pupils eligible to attend school have also experienced testing. We are confident we have the measures in place to ensure the safe return of children to school in line with national expectations.
Dr Lincoln Sargeant, Torbay’s Director of Public Health, said: “Many of us are excited at the prospect of lockdown restrictions coming to an end. At the same time, we have a long way to go before we all receive our vaccine, particularly working age people where cases and transmission are highest. We must also remember vaccination is not a guarantee of us being safe from the virus.
“Wherever you go, stay COVID-19 safe. Keep to the restrictions, make space and protect those around you. If you develop symptoms I urge you to book a test and self-isolate, and to let Test & Trace know all your recent contacts. Not doing so will risk an increase in cases and slow the opening up of businesses and other key services.”
Councillor Steve Darling, Leader of Torbay Council, said: Our most urgent priority now is to safely help get the Bay back on its feet in line with government rules; re-opening schools, continuing to support businesses and maintaining a robust testing and vaccination programme.
“I am enormously grateful to everyone in the Bay who has contributed to keeping our COVID-19 rates down and to our fantastic community and voluntary groups which have delivered so much support to those most in need throughout out the pandemic. I am hopeful that a return to some sense of normality is on the horizon and urge everyone to keep following the rules and keep Torbay safe.”
Councillor Darren Cowell, Deputy Leader of the Council said: “We have distributed over £57 million in grants to businesses in the Bay but three lockdowns have taken their toll, particularly on our tourism and hospitality sector. We share their urgency to return to more normal trading and will work with local business networks to develop future support schemes.
“I look forward to the government announcement next week on its plans to support our badly affected businesses and we will continue to respond quickly to further government support to ensure it reaches those businesses who need it most, as quickly as possible. We urge any businesses who hasn’t applied already for the various grants to see if they are eligible and apply before the deadline of 31 March.
“Local businesses are the lifeblood of our economy and I urge everyone to support our businesses as much as possible as restrictions are lifted. We mustn’t be complacent – everyone needs to act sensibly as restrictions ease.”
Local information, support and guidance can be found on our Coronavirus web pages, and on our Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn social media accounts. You can also get the latest news from Torbay Council by signing up for the One Torbay email newsletter.