Coronavirus: New Covid-19 restrictions come into force in Derry

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The Derry and Strabane area is now facing tougher restrictions than the rest of Northern Ireland.

A range of new restrictions have come into force in the Derry and Strabane Council area in an attempt to curb a rise in Covid-19 cases.

Hospitality businesses will be limited to takeaway, delivery, and outdoor dining, and all cultural attractions closed.

The measures are tougher than those applied across NI on 22 September.

The president of the Londonderry Chamber of Commerce has called for intervention to support businesses.

Speaking to BBC Radio Ulster, Redmond McFadden, said that “businesses don’t want to be living off of handouts”.

“All that businesses want to be able to do is to be able to trade. We understand that during these very difficult times hard decisions have to be made,” he said.

“We want a fighting chance to survive until when we are able to open and trade as normal.”

Mr McFadden acknowledged the seriousness of the situation facing the area, and said he believed people had become “a little bit complacent”.

“We now have to redouble our efforts to make sure that we get back on top of this,” he said.

The new Covid-19 measures in Derry and Strabane

  • Pubs, cafes, restaurants and hotels limited to opening for takeaway, delivery and outdoor dining
  • Where residents can, work from home
  • Avoid unnecessary travel within the council area and to and from it
  • Where journeys are necessary, advice is to walk, cycle or use private transport
  • Hotels will only be allowed to provide service to overnight guests
  • No spectators can attend sporting events
  • All museums, galleries and cultural attractions in the council area are to remain closed
  • No organised indoor gatherings in community halls
  • Libraries can only operate a “call and collect” service
  • Indoor sports limited to individual training only, no exercise classes permitted

On Monday, Derry City and Strabane District Council’s chief executive has said a cash boost for hospitality businesses in the area could be announced “within days”.

John Kelpie said he expected a support package for businesses affected by stricter Covid-19 regulations.

Mr Kelpie said that discussions were ongoing with Stormont ministers, and that 200 businesses in the region could be affected.

Addressing a Stormont press briefing last week, First Minister Arlene Foster said the R number in the area was believed to be 2 or higher.

R represents the number of individuals who, on average, will be infected by a single person with coronavirus.

The first minister has said the changes are “by no means” a return to lockdown for the area, but she recognised the news would come as a “hammer-blow” for businesses.

The changes are set to last for at least a fortnight.

Schools and other educational settings are staying open.

Church services will continue, and weddings and funerals will still be permitted, in line with current executive guidance.

BBC News