Mayor issues plea to stay at home as new COVID regulations to be enforced

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Mayor of Derry and Strabane Brian Tierney has pleaded with local people to only leave home for essential reasons following the latest spike in Covid 19 cases in the Council area.

Mayor Tierney warned that there is a genuine risk of the health service being overwhelmed if the public don’t adhere to the now legally enforceable guidance issued by the NI Executive this week.

From midnight on Thursday people across the north have been warned they should only leave home for medical or food needs, exercise and work that cannot be done from home.

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In a statement earlier this week, the Executive said the new crackdown on movement would be similar to the first lockdown back in March 2020 and would be enforceable by the PSNI.

Derry City and Strabane District Council Mayor, Councillor Brian TierneyDerry City and Strabane District Council Mayor, Councillor Brian Tierney
Derry City and Strabane District Council Mayor, Councillor Brian Tierney

“This is an exceptionally worrying time as our infection rates in Derry and Strabane have risen to unprecedented levels and our health service are now struggling to cope with the demands it has placed on them,” Mayor Tierney said.

“That is why I am pleading to everyone to show the community spirit we are renowned for and adhere to the latest guidelines to only leave home for the essential purposes outlined by the executive – it will undoubtedly save lives.

“Your actions today can have a direct impact on the pressure on our health service and the safety of the most vulnerable in our society in the coming weeks.”

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The new restrictions are legally enforceable with the PSNI given powers to order people to go home if they are engaging in prohibited activity.

Indoor and outdoor gatherings have been reduced from 15 people to six and only from two households, however people will be allowed to take exercise outdoors with one person from another household.

The Mayor has recorded a video message appealing for the public to pull together to adhere to the new guidance to protect the most vulnerable, to be broadcast on his social media pages at the weekend.

“We must restrict our movements and not interact with others outside our households if we are to suppress the virus and sustain our essential services,” Mayor Tierney said.

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“The roll out of the vaccines means we can look forward to a return to more normality later this year however in the short term it is imperative that you keep your contacts to an absolute minimum and support our frontline workers in their tireless efforts to fight this virus on our behalf.

“In 2020 we pulled together in the Spring and Autumn to bring down a spike in cases and I am confident the people of Derry and Strabane will show the community spirit we are famous for to do so again.”

Regulations have now been introduced so that “no one can leave their home without a reasonable excuse” and the PSNI will have the enforcement powers to order individuals home “if engaging in prohibited activity, or if they are intending to do so”, the NI Executive has confirmed.

The new restrictions will be in place until February 6 and will be reviewed on January 21.

The Executive also agreed that Junior Ministers will meet with the Faith Leaders’ Forum as soon as possible to discuss the option of all services moving online until February 6.