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File image of the Peace Bridge in Derry.
File image of the Peace Bridge in Derry.
Image: Shutterstock/andrzej bochenski

New Covid-19 restrictions take effect in Derry and Strabane

The new measures officially come into place today.
Oct 5th 2020, 6:00 AM 18,110 2

ADDITIONAL CORONAVIRUS RESTRICTIONS have taken effect in Derry city and Strabane in Northern Ireland. 

From today, pubs, cafes and restaurants are confined to takeaway, delivery and outdoor dining. 

The hospitality industry has warned that many businesses will close as a result. 

People are urged to limit their use of public transport and work from home if possible, with all “unnecessary travel” within or to and from the Derry City and Strabane council area to be avoided. 

The two areas have some of the highest levels of Covid-19 in the UK. 

Northern Ireland’s First Minister Arlene Foster said last week: “The virus is very much raging through the community.”

She added: “I recognise that this news will come as a hammer blow to businesses in the north west.”

Stormont ministers agreed the extra curtailment, to last at least a fortnight, during an urgent meeting last Thursday.

Other measures include:

– Hotel services will be limited to residents and funeral and wedding events
– Indoor sports training will be restricted to individuals only
– Sports fixtures will be held without spectators
– No exercise classes
– A maximum of 15 will be able to gather anywhere in the affected area outdoors

Households across NI are also barred from mixing indoors in private homes. Gatherings of up to 15 people outdoors are permitted. 

The R-number of the virus stood at two or higher on Thursday when the measures were first announced. 

The NI chief scientific advisor Professor Ian Young said the NI executive would have little alternative but to opt for a full lockdown in the Derry City and Strabane area if soaring infection rates were not halted by the new restrictions. 

Arlene Foster has further warned that tougher penalities will follow for people who flout the restrictions. 

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Colin Neill, chief executive of pubs and restaurants group Hospitality Ulster, described it last week as a devastating blow.

“The imposing of further restrictions on top of tight legally enforceable rules will mean closure for many as they won’t be able to meet the requirement, such as outside space, and with the weather getting colder, this will no longer be viable,” he said. 

The NI Department of Health last Friday reported 934 new cases of Covid-19. 

This was the highest number recorded to date and more than twice the previous daily high of 424 recorded on Wednesday.

A further 201 cases were identified in the Derry and Strabane area on Friday, bringing the incidence rate there to 422.8 per 100,000 people.

With reporting by Press Assocition. 

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