Localised coronvirus restrictions in Ballymena are now ‘legally enforceable’

The shaded area is the 'restricted zone'.

THE localised Covid-19 restrictions announced for parts of Northern Ireland like Ballymena town and the BT43 postcode area have been made legally enforceable today.

The restrictions were announced to help limit the virus’ spread in the Belfast council area, Ballymena, BT28, BT29 and BT43.

More postcodes can now be added or removed as the pattern of the spread changes.

One of the maps showing the restricted area including Ballymena.

 

The Department of Health has worked with Ordnance Survey NI to produce an interactive map.

The map is available on the NI Direct website and will be updated weekly.

On Wednesday afternoon there appeared to be some teething problems with the maps with some people in the Ballymena area saying they were unable to see the ‘layer’ giving the precise restricted areas on the government map.

One of the maps showing the restricted area including Ballymena.

 

The regulations apply to anyone living in the named areas.

They allow no more than six people to gather in a private garden from no more than two households and rule out any mixing of households in private dwellings, with some exceptions.

The exceptions are:

Bubbling with one other household
Caring responsibilities including childcare
Building or maintenance work or the services of any trade or profession
A business operating from home
Supported living arrangements
Visits required for legal or medical purposes
A funeral
A house move
A marriage or civil partnerships where one partner is terminally ill
There’s also guidance on travel, which is not legally enforceable.

Health Minister Robin Swann said that the decision to introduce localised restrictions was “not taken lightly”.

“Keeping the population safe and healthy is my top priority and in order to limit the spread of Covid-19 we need to restrict contact between people, particularly within the restricted areas.”

Regulations on the localised Covid-19 restrictions have now been laid, making them legally enforceable.

The restrictions were brought in to stem the increasing increase in cases of the virus in certain areas. Postcode areas may be added and removed from the local restrictions as patterns of infection change and further interventions and restrictions can be introduced as necessary.

Health Minister Robin Swann said: “Last week the Executive made the difficult decision to introduce localised restrictions and sought the good will of the public to adhere to that request. I am very aware of the difficulties some of these restrictions might cause, however the decisions were not taken lightly.

“My Department has worked with Ordnance Survey NI (OSNI) to produce an interactive map that clearly shows which postcodes are restricted. This map is available via NIDirect and will be updated and produced weekly, ensuring there is no confusion in relation to where the restrictions apply.

“Keeping the population safe and healthy is my top priority and in order to limit the spread of Covid-19 we need to restrict contact between people, particularly within the restricted areas.”

The areas covered by the restrictions are:

Belfast City Council area
Postcode area BT28
Postcode area BT29
The town of Ballymena and postcode area BT43
The regulations, a list of postcodes and the interactive map provide clarity on the areas covered, including the specific Ballymena town postcodes where the restrictions apply.

The regulations apply to anyone living in these areas and cover:

No mixing of households in private dwellings, with exemptions for: bubbling with one other household; caring responsibilities including childcare; building or maintenance work or the services of any trade or profession; a business operating from home; supported living arrangements; visits required for legal or medical purposes; a funeral; a house move; or a marriage or civil partnerships where one partner is terminally ill;

No more than six people to gather in a private garden from no more than two households;

Detailed guidance on the restrictions has been published by NI Direct covering issues such as hospital and care homes visits, travel, and people who are medically vulnerable:

https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/coronavirus-localised-restrictions

https://apps.spatialni.gov.uk/RestrictionExtentsApp/

As well as abiding by the regulations listed above, people in the ‘protected areas’ are asked to use their discretion in their everyday lives and be mindful of their responsibilities to others.

Continue to work from home if you can. Ask yourself how important a journey or other planned activity is to you. How much additional risk would it bring to you or others? How difficult would it be to maintain social distancing?

The restrictions will be kept under constant review and areas can be added or removed from the list, depending on the number of Covid-19 cases.

Everyone has to keep playing their part and strictly follow public health advice, whether they live in these areas or not. Covid-19 rates of infection can increase rapidly and with catastrophic consequences, a government press release warns.

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