Covid cases in Torbay higher than ever - people urged to be cautious about 'Freedom Day'

People are being asked to follow restrictions even after they officially end. Credit: PA

People in Torbay are being urged to follow Covid restrictions even after they end as cases there are higher than ever.

Public health figures say rising Covid rates in Devon mean people should act with caution and continue to meet in small groups outdoors and work from home where possible.

It comes as the Government is lifting almost all coronavirus restrictions in England on Monday 19 July, which is a date being nicknamed by some as 'Freedom Day'.

Limits on group sizes and rules enforcing social distancing and face coverings are among those being scrapped.

But Torbay Council is warning coronavirus is continuing to spread, especially among younger people who are less likely to be fully vaccinated.

The area's case rate is currently 387 per 100,000 - significantly higher than the previous peak of 266 per 100,000 in January of this year.

Although many of those testing positive are not becoming seriously ill, the council is also warning cases are causing "a significant problem for local businesses". It says it is concerned to see some businesses which have only just reopened temporarily closing again due to staff testing positive and having to self-isolate.

Director of Public Health at Torbay Council Dr Lincoln Sargeant said: “Cases of Covid-19 have been steadily increasing in Torbay, which was to be expected as we re-opened but now our rates are mirroring those seen nationally, I regrettably have to ask our residents to keep exercising caution as we approach and move into step four of the government roadmap. 

“For the time being, I urge residents to keep meeting in small groups and outside wherever possible, and to stay working from home if you can."

Dr Sargeant also said it is 'vital' for everyone to get both doses of the vaccine, get tested regularly, and use a PCR test if they show any symptoms of the virus.

"Other public health guidance to keep washing or sanitising our hands, get tested regularly and let the fresh air in to keep the air-borne virus out, all remain the same," he said.

Leader of Torbay Council, Councillor Steve Darling described step four of the Government roadmap as "a pivotal moment...particularly for our hospitality sector."

"The impact of the Delta variant of Covid-19 is being felt across our business community, already struggling with a shortage of workers, and particularly the hospitality sector so badly affected throughout the pandemic," he said.

 “It is critical that we all take a responsible approach by reducing the risks to ourselves and others, and help businesses stay open during the busy summer season.

"If we all exercise caution, get our vaccinations and get tested to stop the virus spreading further, we can all start to enjoy our summer.”