Following news that the NI Executive has placed further restrictions across the Derry City and Strabane District Council area, elected members of the Council met for a special online briefing last night to discuss the new measures where they made a strong commitment to do everything they can to halt the spread whilst providing support for communities and businesses during this difficult time.
Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council Cllr Brian Tierney, who chaired the meeting, said that while news of the restrictions was extremely disappointing, the new measures were necessary and proportionate to protect people and the health service.
Among the measures imposed by the NI Executive regulations are:
- No indoor gatherings should take place where people from different households are mixed, with certain exemptions in place for: weddings, wedding receptions, funerals and post funeral gatherings (existing restrictions and strict social distancing requirements continue to apply); services of worship in places of worship; indoor sport for individual training only (e.g. no exercise classes); workplaces where working from home is not possible; educational settings; managed youth and childcare services.
- Hospitality venues can remain open for take-away, delivery and outdoor dining only. Wet pubs can serve customers outdoors only. Existing restrictions for outdoor settings will continue to apply. Hotels can only provide services to residents as per previous restrictions. A support package for affected venues will be brought forward.
- All museums, galleries and cultural attractions must remain closed and libraries can operate a call and collect service.
- Outdoor gatherings are permitted, up to a maximum of 15 people only. There cannot be gatherings of more than 15 people even with a risk assessment.
- Sports training and sporting events are exempt but they must take place without any spectators.
The NI Executive have advised that the restrictions will be in place for a time limited period of a minimum of two weeks, and will be reviewed weekly. In addition, the NI Executive have agreed a series of measures they recommend in guidance: They include –
- People living in Derry and Strabane local government district area are required to avoid all unnecessary travel. Similarly, people should only travel to the area where it is absolutely necessary.
- People working in the Derry City and Strabane District Council should continue to work from home where possible.
- Schools, Early Learning and Childcare services in the local government district area will remain open.
- Adult and Higher Education Institutions will also stay open. Managed youth settings will remain open. However, in these settings, protective measures should be reviewed and steps should be taken to limit congregation as much as possible.
- People are asked to walk, cycle or use private transport, shared only with members of their household where possible. Where public transport is taken, social distancing should be observed and face coverings should be worn
Elected members at the Council briefing welcomed news that a bespoke funding package is being considered by Central Government for those directly affected. They said the restrictions were a hammer blow on local businesses and those working in the hospitality sector and it was imperative that Council continues to lobby for financial support and does all it can to work with businesses and other key statutory agencies and stakeholders to provide support and assistance over the coming days and weeks.
Council Chief Executive John Kelpie said that Council would consider the new regulations in respect of Council services and operations and would communicate any closures or impacts today, Friday.
He advised that the Council officers would be working with NI Executive officials and the PSNI over the coming days in relation to possible new enforcement measures and officers would be on the ground providing advice and assistance to businesses.
Mayor Tierney said: “I fully understand how difficult the past number of months have been for many but the time has come for us to take stock and take all the necessary measures needed to stop the virus in its tracks. The rate of infection in our Council area is of great concern and now, more than ever, we need the continued support and co-operation of the people of the Derry and Strabane Council area to get through it. We must take heed of the warnings and respond accordingly.
“We all have a responsibility to keep ourselves and others safe. Please adhere to social distancing measures, wash your hands regularly, wear a face mask where required and reduce your social interactions. We appeal to you all to refrain from unnecessary travel, to work from home where you can and ask yourself how important a journey or other planned activity is and how much additional risk would it bring to you or others and most importantly reduce your contact with people. By taking these steps and acting responsibly we can all play our part in preventing the spread of the virus across our region.”
He added that in addition to adhering to the restrictions it is important that people download the contact tracing app saying “should you be advised to take a test, please do so as quickly as possible and follow all the guidance in relation to self-isolating and quarantine.”
Details of the NI Executive announcement can be read in full at - https://www.executiveoffice-ni.gov.uk/news/statement-first-minister-and-deputy-first-minister-covid-19-localised-restrictions