13 Aug 2022

Pubs and restaurants limited to takeaways and outdoor dining as part of new Covid crackdown in Derry

Northern Ireland Executive announce new measures to try and stop spread of disease in local area

Revealed: Kildare pubs second most crowded in Ireland

Pubs will not be allowed to serve indoors as part of the new crackdown.

Strict new restrictions were announced today in a bid to stop the spread of Covid-19 in the Derry City and Strabane District Council area.

After the local surge was discussed at a meeting of the Northern Ireland Executive, a raft of new measures were announced by First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill at a briefing in Stormont.

From next week, pubs, cafes, and restaurants in the local council area will only be allowed to offer takeaways or outdoor dining.

Hotels will only be allowed to provide services to their overnight guests and for wedding/funeral bookings.

All museums, galleries and cultural attractions will be closed.

Sports fixtures will be allowed to continued but spectators will be banned.

No organised indoor events will be allowed in community halls or other such venues.

People living in the local council area will be encouraged to work from home and to avoid unnecessary travel.

If people must travel, they are being urged not to use public transport.

People are also being asked not to visit the Derry and Strabane council area unless necessary.

The new restrictions will be in place for an initial period of two weeks, but Ms O'Neill said they would be reviewed on a weekly basis.

"This is an emergency and requires an emergency response," she said.

Schools and childcare centres in the local area will remain open and church services will continue.

Mrs Foster said the Executive had tried to take a 'measured' approach to the local surge in Covid-19 cases.

"This is by no means a lockdown," she said.

However, the First Minister said the Executive must 'act decisively' to contain the outbreak.

She said she understood that the new restrictions would come as a 'hammer blow' to local businesses affected but added that the Executive was looking at ways of providing financial support to these businesses.

The crackdown comes as the latest statistics show that the rate of positive Covid-19 cases has continued to increase in the Derry City and Strabane District Council area.

Figures released today by the Department of Health show that there have been 486 positive cases of the disease identified in the local council area from September 24 to September 30.

This is in comparison with 222 positive cases in the seven days beforehand from September 17 to September 23.

The rate of positives cases in Derry and Strabane is 322.6 per 100,000 people - more than double the rate in any of the other ten council areas in Northern Ireland.

It is also one of the highest rates of any area in the UK.

Foyle MP Colum Eastwood urged people to follow the new restrictions.

“I know the last six months have been incredibly difficult," he said.

"Everyone has made immense personal sacrifices to keep themselves and their families safe.

"People have lost mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters to this virus and have given up the chance to say a proper goodbye in many cases.

“People in the North West have been very good at following the public health advice, even when it appeared confusing or felt frustrating.

"But if we’re honest, the cautious attitude we all took at the start has slipped – people aren’t always wearing facemasks in shops, unnecessary journeys have become routine again and compliance is not as good as it should be.

"The hard truth is that unless people change their behaviour immediately, we’re going to lose more friends, neighbours and family members."

Mr Eastwood said the new restrictions will be challenging.

"People in our communities are naturally sociable, entrepreneurial and active.

"But they are absolutely necessary to relieve pressure on our health service and protect each other.

"Derry and Strabane has shown that it can step up when needed, it is now needed again and I know that people will do all that they can.

“But this is a two way street. Government cannot restrict trading opportunities in the North West without additional support for businesses that will close and workers forced to be at home.

"I will be pressing very strongly for a support package to meet the needs of people in Derry and Strabane who are being asked to make more sacrifices.”

The majority of the cases identified in the Derry and Strabane council area continue to involve people under the age of 40.

There have been 78 cases identified in the local council area among young people aged 19 or younger in the last seven days.

A total of 243 cases have been identified in people aged between 20 and 39.

There have been 128 cases in people aged between 40 and 59.

In the past week, there have been 32 positive Covid-19 cases identified among people aged between 60 and 79 in the Derry and Strabane area.

There has been five positive cases reported in people over the age of 80.

There are 12 people currently being treated for Covid-19 in Altnagelvin Hospital.

There has been a total of 4,928 tests carried out in the Derry and Strabane area over the period from September 22 to September 28.

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