Derry adjusts to new restrictions as COVID-19 rate hits record high

Post-Christmas, and with the COVID-19 rate having scaled heights hitherto unseen during the pandemic in Derry, local people are getting used to a range of new restrictions.

On Christmas Eve - the last date for which data is available - the seven day COVID-19 rate in Derry/ Strabane had risen to 1,110.5 per 100,000 - its highest level ever. Until last Thursday it had never breached the 1,000 cases per 100,000 mark.

The Executive last week agreed a package of measures to limit the spread of the COVID-19 Omicron variant which have now all come into force.

As of Sunday, nightclubs were forced to closed, dancing in all hospitality venues became prohibited with the exception of weddings or civil partnership celebrations, and all indoor standing events were halted.

And from 6am yesterday the following guidance and regulation also came into effect.

• It is strongly recommended that household mixing should be reduced to a maximum of 3 households.

•There will be a legal requirement for businesses to take reasonable measures to achieve 2m social distancing in office spaces or, where this cannot be achieved, to provide alternative mitigations.

• It is strongly recommended that you should work from home where possible and where that is not possible that there should be regular workplace testing.

•There will be a statutory duty on businesses to take reasonable measures to promote compliance with face coverings requirements, with a grace period until January 7 before enforcement is implemented.

•The exemption of wearing a face covering where it causes severe stress will be removed and the onus of proving an exemption on medical grounds will be on the individual, with a grace period until January 7 before enforcement is implemented.

• There will be a legal duty on businesses to take all reasonable steps to minimise transmission of the spread of the virus, with a grace period until January 7.

• People will be required to be seated in all indoor hospitality settings with a maximum of 6 people, or 10 people from a single household, allowed at a table. (Children aged 12 and under are not counted in the total. This requirement does not apply to weddings or civil partnership celebrations.)

• Indoor seated and all outdoor events can proceed and it is strongly recommended that face coverings should be worn, LFD tests should be taken before attending events and there should be no multi-household travel in the same vehicle.