As tentative steps are made to bring Northern Ireland out of Coronavirus restrictions, the region heads into Easter weekend with the ‘Stay at Home’ message still in place across Tyrone and NI as a whole.
The NI Executive announced a further easing of restrictions will take place on 12 April, but the vast majority of restrictions will stay in place for this weekend.
So what are the specific Coronavirus rules in place over Easter in Tyrone?
Current guidance which will remain in place until at least 12 April, is that you must stay at home except for a number of essential reasons.
Among these are to exercise, to visit your bubble and to care for others. The full list of reasons you are able to leave your home are:
- to obtain goods or services from any business permitted to open
- to exercise, as permitted in the regulations
- to visit your bubble
- to visit hospital, GP, medical appointments or health services (including mental health)
- to provide care or assistance to a vulnerable person, or to provide emergency assistance
- to avoid injury, illness or risk of harm (including domestic abuse)
- to go to work, or provide voluntary or charitable services, if you cannot reasonably do so from home
- to access education or childcare
- to access critical public services (such as MOT or social care services)
- to attend to the care, welfare and exercise of an animal
- to fulfil a legal obligation, such as attending court or jury service
- to donate blood
- to attend a place of worship
- to go to a wedding or civil partnership
- to attend a funeral or visit a burial ground
- to continue access and contact between parents and children who do not live in the same household
- to facilitate a house move, and to do associated activities for that purpose, including viewing properties and making arrangements for removal
On 1 April there was a slight of easing of restrictions across the province, as up to six people were permitted to meet in a garden, with social distancing rules still in place.
Up to 10 people are now also allowed to meet in outdoor facilities such as golf clubs and tennis clubs, with indoor facilities banned with the exception of toilets.
While some may have planned overnight getaways for Easter weekend, this is still not permitted under the current restrictions.
Travel is permitted for exercise only up to 10 miles from your home, dashing any hopes of potential weekend breaks as hotels and self-catering accommodations also remain closed, except for essential workers.
Schools across Tyrone will head into the Easter break with classrooms almost back to capacity, with Year 8 to 11 students returning on April 12.
Cafes, restaurants, pubs, bars and social clubs will remain closed over Easter weekend, with the exception of providing food and drink for takeaway, and no indicative date has been suggested by the Executive as to when these will be allowed to reopen.
According to the current regulations, outdoor parks, play areas and areas operated by the National Trust remain open. However, these areas will still be subject to the 10-mile radius from your home for exercise, so day trips exceeding this limit are still currently not allowed.
From 12 April, the Executive has announced the following easing of restrictions:
- To permit all pupils to return to school;
- To increase the number who can meet outdoors in a garden, from six to 10 (including children) from two households;
- To remove the ‘stay at home’ provision in the legislation, moving to a ‘stay local’ and ‘work from home’ message;
- To allow contactless ‘click and collect’ for all non-essential retail; and
- To allow outdoor sports training to resume by sports clubs affiliated with recognised sports Governing Bodies, in small groups of up to 15 people but with all indoor spaces closed except essential toilet facilities.
The chief medical officers of NI and the Republic of Ireland issued a joint statement on Thursday asking residents of both areas to conform to public health advice.
“Easter is a time when, traditionally, many of us spend time with our families and loved ones. Unfortunately, this Easter, we still have a very dangerous, very transmissible virus, circulating in our communities that continues to spread and cause serious illness and, sadly, death,” read the statement from Chief Medical Officer for Northern Ireland Dr Michael McBride and Deputy Chief Medical Officer for Ireland Dr Ronan Glynn.
“People in all corners of Ireland have continued to follow the public health advice by quietly taking all the appropriate actions to protect all of us from this disease. Most people are making a huge sacrifice and missing time with loved ones in order for us to stay on course with the public health guidance.
“We must ask that, once again, we work together to prevent a further wave of infection by celebrating this Easter safely. Please continue to stick with the public health advice and avoid visiting other homes at this time. Do not give this virus the opportunities it is seeking to spread.