Two further major outdoor events cancelled

Fri, 24/04/2020 - 15:11 -- Editor

Members of Derry City and Strabane District Council have taken the decision this week to cancel two forthcoming Council events, the Sperrins and Killeter Walking Festival and the Waterside Half Marathon as it continues to respond to the current COVOD-19 emergency.Both the Walking Festival and the annual Waterside Half Marathon had been scheduled to take place in September. Council members and senior management have been meeting regularly to review impacts on Council services, with daily updates on the changing response to the COVID-19 situation. It was decided that given the ongoing situation and all the guidance from health authorities regarding public safety and the restrictions regarding public gatherings it would be prudent to cancel at this stage.Announcing the decision, Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor Michaela Boyle, said it was necessary to look ahead and be realistic about what events can safely be delivered over the coming months. "I know this will be disappointing as these are both popular events and ones which positively promote health, wellbeing and fitness," she declared."But these are exceptional times and difficult decisions must be made for the greater good."Local people have been responding well to the social distancing advice and I know people will understand that under the current government guidelines regarding public gatherings, it would not be possible to host these events without making major changes to their format that would have a detrimental impact."By making these decisions at an early stage, we can avoid accumulating unnecessary costs and resourcing in terms of planning, and we will continue to review other major Council-led events over the coming weeks."We do however want to send out a strong message regarding exercise and its importance to both mental and physical health at this time. Council is promoting smaller exercise challenges – such as the Family Home 2k Run/Walk on May 9 – and the online Friday Fitness Challenge, which people can do at home, in their garden or near their home. We will continue to explore other activities and programmes in the coming weeks which will enhance health and wellbeing and offer people the chance to exercise in a safe and fun way."Please take the opportunity to get together as a family and enjoy games and activities, and the extra time we are getting to spend with loved ones."The decision was taken by members during a virtual meeting this week where they were reminded that regulations set out by the Department of Health in their Coronavirus Legislation which came into operation on March 22 were still in place.The announcement follows on from the decision to cancel the City of Derry Jazz Festival and St Patrick's Day programme in recent weeks. Council will continue to adhere to the requirements to keep premises and businesses closed, including burial grounds and cemeteries, and to adhere to the restrictions on movement and gatherings. However, it continues to explore alternative options for the public including the launch this week of an online Jazz Festival. The Virtual Jazz Festival… Sofa Sessions will be broadcast as a live event on the City of Derry Jazz Festival Facebook each day from Thursday May 7th to Sunday May 10th - called the 'Virtual Jazz Festival…Sofa Sessions'.For more information on all the impacts on Council services in relation to COVID-19 please go to www/derrystrabane.com/coronavirus