Further restrictions introduced by ministers

Further restrictions introduced by ministers

Further restrictions have been imposed by ministers.

By Damian Mullan


By Damian Mullan



IF you go down to the woods today...you're definitely in for a big surprise.

That's because, in some cases, you'll find they won't be open.

In the latest attempt to tackle the spread of Coronavirus, Environment Minister Edwin Poots has shut down public access to DAERA owned forest and country parks as much as possible, to 'save lives' as he puts it.

The move follows a surge in visitor numbers over recent days with many ignoring the social distancing advice and in light of the latest government advice.

Car parks will be closed to all vehicles, playparks and on-site toilet facilities are now closed along with camping amenities, museums, mobile concessions and visitor centres.

"These unprecedented moves are to save lives," explained the minister.

"I realise this is a disappointing decision, especially to families with children out of school and others using the facilities for physical and mental health reasons.

"But we are not living in normal times, it is not business as usual. We are all in this together and we must do the right thing for each other.

"I am stopping public access to our parks, forests and nature reserves where possible. Our car parks will be closed to all vehicles and I’m also urging people not to visit on foot either – it’s just not worth the risk. I’m doing my bit to help save lives – please do yours and stay at home,” he added.

In a separate move, NI Water is closing public access to its reservoirs and adjoining cafes, toilets and car parks until further notice.

"Although water companies are passionate about providing the public with nature sites to boost health and wellbeing, this move is in the best interests of the country during this difficult and unprecedented time," said Des Nevin, Director of NI Water’s Customer Service Delivery Directorate.

"The health and welfare of the public is incredibly important to the water industry, and we are advising customers to follow the Government’s advice on staying at home and avoiding contact with other people. The safety of the public and NI Water staff is paramount.”

While disappointing, the decisions are not entirely unexpected given the gravity of the situation surrounding COVID-19.

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