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Local lockdown measures for Derry City and Strabane District as infection rates continue to rise Published Date: 01/10/2020

The First Minister and deputy First Minister have written to the Assembly to provide an update on the Executive’s decision to introduce localised restrictions in the Derry City and Strabane District Council area.

The written statement can be viewed online, and is summarised below:

Amendments to the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (No. 2) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020 published on 30 September imposed increased restrictions on venues where alcohol may be consumed across Northern Ireland.

The Regulations initially came into effect on 23 July 2020 and have been subject to several subsequent amendments.

A decision was made at the Executive on 1st October that further increased restrictions are required in the Derry City and Strabane District Council as a result of an alarming increase in the incidence rate of the virus in this area.

This follows announcements on 29 September on additional restrictions to the hospitality industry as a result of the increasing confirmed COVID-19 cases.  Since then there has been a further increase in daily confirmed infections, and evidence of widespread community transmission in several parts of Northern Ireland. 

Derry City and Strabane District Council has an incidence of 323 new Covid-19 cases per 100,000 population compared with an incidence of 133 cases per 100,000 population in Belfast, the next highest area of incidence. As a result, a number of measures will be imposed by regulations. Those are that:

  • 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 restrictions will be in place for a time limited period of a minimum of two weeks, and will be reviewed weekly.

In addition, the following measures are recommended in guidance:

  • 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.

Guidance will be provided to people living in the Derry City and Strabane District Council – this is advice they are strongly urged to follow to reduce the risk of virus transmission.

The additional measures proposed for the Derry City and Strabane District Council complement those imposed in Donegal since the 28th of September– what happens in Donegal impacts on the Derry City and Strabane District Council area and vice versa.

In addition, the level of fines for breaching the restrictions in place, not just in Derry City and Strabane District Council but across Northern Ireland is under review.