We’re back in business as restrictions eased in Derry

The shutters will be lifted on retail and leisure services today while outdoor dining and drinking is set to return across the north west.

The lockdown easing in the north today marks a major milestone as the vaccine roll out continues to gather pace, allowing for all retail, gyms and restaurants, cafés and bars with outside space and to begin trading again.

For the first time in 2021, up to 15 people from up to three households will also be allowed to visit each other in their gardens, and families can also book and stay overnight in self-contained tourist accommodation.

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Outdoor eateries, cafes and pubs can serve a maximum of six people from two households per table and patrons are advised contact details will be recorded. The curfew on food takeaways and off licences operating times also ends today.

Lisa Sheerin prepares tables for today’s reopening of Soda and Starch’s sheltered outdoor area in the Craft Village. Photo: George Sweeney. DER2117GS - 008

Private and Council leisure facilities will reopen their doors this morning to welcome people back for individual training for the first time in four months.

As teams at Templemore, Foyle Arena, Riversdale among others prepare for reopening, Mayor of Derry and Strabane Brian Tierney, sounded a note of caution that the resumption of sporting activities is dependent on full adherence to the restrictions.

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“I’m sure many people have been counting down the days until they can get back to their favourite training activities,” he said. “I know the staff at all our centres are delighted to be welcoming visitors back through the doors this weekend. But while this is a very positive and welcome development it comes with a very firm reminder that we all have a shared responsibility to take these next steps safely and responsibly. Covid is still very much present within our community and we must do all we can to reduce the conditions for the virus to spread.

The Mayor has also urged local people to support local businesses after what has been a tough year.

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Jenni Doherty preparing for the reopening of her Little Acorns Bookstore, on Foyle Street, this morning as lockdown restrictions on non-essential retail outlets are lifted. Photo: George Sweeney. DER2117GS - 004

“I know there will be many businesses across our city and district really excited to open their doors tomorrow after a turbulent and difficult past year,” he said. “I hope that everyone will support those businesses in the weeks and months ahead as they try to return to normality,” said Mayor Tierney.

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“In doing so, I would ask everyone to please make sure they’re following the health guidelines in place including wearing a face mask where required and always maintaining social distancing.

“It really is brilliant to see businesses reopen, but we also have to be mindful that the COVID-19 virus is still in our community so the best way that we can help our local businesses is by following the guidelines while in stores and out and about.”

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More on Jazz Festival and leisure services and the Shop Local, Support Local campaign on Pages 6, 24 & 25.

Anesha Crumley, proprietor, Crumley’s Funiture on William Street, pictured preparing for reopening this morning as lockdown restrictions on non-essential retail outlets are lifted. Photo: George Sweeney. DER2117GS - 005
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Saoirse Doherty, from O’Neills Sports Superstore, in Waterloo Place, displaying a new range of clothing for reopening this morning as lockdown restrictions on non -essential retail outlets lifted. Photo: George Sweeney. DER2117GS - 006
Catherine Kearney, owner of the Gift Box on Shipquay Street, prepares a display prior to this morning reopening as lockdown restrictions on non-essential retail outlets are lifted. Photo: George Sweeney. DER2117GS - 007