Coronavirus: Mid & East Antrim Borough Council announces closure of several facilities

SEVERAL council facilities have been closed down by Mid & East Antrim Borough Council in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

At a meeting of Council last night, councillors made a number of decisions.

These were agreed in line with the UK Government and Public Health Agency guidance.

A spokesperson said: “Council remains clear that we will support citizens in whatever way we can.

“We are currently realigning what we do so that we can meet the new needs of our community.”

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Facilities closed with immediate effect
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➡️Leisure services:

Seven Towers, Carrickfergus Amphitheatre, Larne Leisure Centre

➡️Community centres – both council-run and community-run:

W: midandeastantrim.gov.uk/community-centres

➡️Council-run theatres and Museums:

W: midandeastantrim.gov.uk/museums

· Ballymena Showgrounds
· Carnfunnock Caravan Site
· Carrickfergus Castle

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Services with restrictions
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Registration services are appointment-only for births, deaths and marriages.

View registrar contact details at: bit.ly/3dcJ6sY

Marina building at Carrickfergus will be restricted to two members of the public at a time to allow for social distancing.

Environmental Health and Planning services are functioning, however, we will not be carrying out proactive inspections at this time.

The Gobbins will remain open this week, with an announcement shortly regarding longer-term plans. Visitors are still enjoying the outdoor facility and measures are in place for social distancing.

Civic buildings in Larne, Ballymena and Carrickfergus will close at 6pm each evening.

Bentra Golf Club remains open but will be unstaffed.

The spokesperson added: “We are here to fully support you and would ask you to make any queries for Council via:

T: 0300 124 5000
W: midandeastantrim.gov.uk
Facebook: @MEABoroughCouncil
Twitter: @mea_bc

Services continuing
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➡️Waste service, including bin collections
➡️Public toilets remain open throughout the borough, with increased cleaning schedules
➡️Play parks and our open spaces remain open, however, we remind parents of the need for social distancing and hygiene.

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Events
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VE Day commemorations have been postponed, as has all activity during the planned Friends’ Goodwill Festival.

All civic gatherings have been postponed.

The April meeting of Full Council has been postponed. Group party leaders will work alongside Council’s Chief Executive to ensure critical services are delivered to best of our ability.

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Foodbank appeal
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The spokesperson said: “In this time of need, our local foodbanks are running very short of essentials. We are appealing to you to try and help us replenish these vital stocks.

“Our Chief Executive is assessing all Council resources to help collect these items and identify ways of supporting our foodbanks.

“It is important we collectively support the vulnerable in our community and over the coming weeks, our waste services will be delivering a leaflet on how this can be done.

“Details of how to contribute and assist our foodbanks will be published on our website later today.”

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Older People Community Support appeal
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Across Mid and East Antrim, Council is working with several organisations.

The Council has provided financial support to Mid & East Antrim Agewell Partnership (MEAAP) to introduce additional text alert systems ensuring that our older people get a text every day:

T: 028 2565 8604

When your bin is been emptied you will also receive a leaflet giving you information in respect of support services provided by MEAAP and supported by Council. This has also been emailed as part of the public update.

The spokesperson added: “We have supported the extension of telephone advice through the Mid and East Antrim Community Advice Service:

T: 028 9600 1333

“We have appealed to the public to donate to food banks and we will work through with them how the food will be delivered to our older citizens and those who are isolated.

“Council have supported the Inter-Ethnic Forum to translate all information into other languages and to circulate it to ethnic minority citizens.

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Council communication
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“We will continue to update you every weekday with the latest information.

“A dedicated webpage has been set up to signpost you to up to date health information and Council services:

W: midandeastantrim.gov.uk/covid-19

“If you have any queries around any issues – grants, housing, rates, etc – Council will endeavour to assist you.”

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Government update
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Yesterday, the Prime Minister gave further direction around preventing the spread of the virus.

The key decision announced the closure of all schools from Monday 23 March.

The Council will continue to share the very latest advice and information from the UK Government.

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NI Executive
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The Executive is exploring support for people on the private/social rented sector; and those in crisis and emergency accommodation.

Daily updates will be provided by the Executive and shared by Council to citizens.

Yesterday, there was a meeting of the Civil Contingencies Group Northern Ireland, which brought together representatives from across public services, including Executive departments, health and social care, local government and blue-light responders.

A community response plan has been announced. The Voluntary & Community Sector Emergencies Leadership Group will focus on food distribution, tackling food poverty, free school meals, those self-isolating, and connecting with communities on the ground.

A discretionary support fund will make grants available to people for essential needs.

The Council said: “We will share more details of all of the above as soon as this information is released.”

Driving tests have been suspended for three months to protect DVA customers and staff from COVID-19 .

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Businesses
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About £370m is being provided to support the most vulnerable businesses in Northern Ireland during the coronavirus pandemic.

The measures will assist more than 30,000 firms in Northern Ireland.

Small businesses with a net asset value up to £15,000 will receive a grant of £10,000.

A grant of £25,000 will go to larger, medium-sized firms in the retail, tourism and hospitality sectors.

Qualifying businesses for the £25,000 grant must have a rateable value of between £15,000 and £51,000.

Details on how to access these grants will be announced shortly and Council staff are on-hand to assist businesses with this.

These schemes will be administered by the Department for the Economy, Invest NI, working with the Department of Finance and the Land and Property Services.

If you have any queries, please contact the Council’s Economic Development team on:

T: 028 2563 3195

The Council added: “A dedicated webpage to assist our businesses is being created will be accessible at:

W: midandeastantrim.gov.uk/covid-19

The Executive has already committed to providing a three-month rates holiday to all businesses from April to June.”

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Health
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Patients with cancer and other serious or life-threatening conditions will continue to receive the care that they need, the Executive has said.

The Health Minister intends to announce the details of a surge plan that he will implement to ensure that our hospitals and health care system provide the best possible protection for those diagnosed with covid-19.

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Transport
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Translink continues to operate all scheduled bus and train services and are taking steps to minimise the risks onboard services.

Regular cleaning regimes are in place and hand sanitisers rolled out across frontline bus and rail staff.

Passengers have been encouraged to wash their hands for 20 seconds before and after they have been on public transport.

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For the very latest coronavirus advice, please follow the guidance from the UK Government: bit.ly/2wWU9Wq and Public Health Agency: bit.ly/2WgKzbv.

Council will regularly update you in relation to services.

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