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Council to continue to adhere to Govt COVID19 regulations

23 April 2020
Elected members of Derry City and Strabane District Council took part in a virtual briefing this afternoon to get an update from officers on how Council services are continuing to operate during the COVID19 emergency.
Members were reminded that regulations set out by the Department of Health in their Coronavirus Legislation that came into operation on March 22 were still in place and that Council was continuing to adhere to the requirements to close premises and businesses, including burial grounds and cemeteries, and the restrictions on movement and gatherings.
Referencing the closure of Cemeteries members were reminded that Council does not have the authority to reopen them until there is a change in legislation and instruction from Government. Members were informed, should that happen, Council would act accordingly.
Members heard how Household Recycling Centres remained closed in adherence to Section 5 Para 1 of the legislation that states – "During the emergency period no person may leave the place where they are living without reasonable excuse."
It was explained to members while recycling centres were not specifically mentioned in the legislation, it was the view of the majority of Councils that visits to centres were deemed as unnecessary travel and any decision to reopen them would only be on a phased approach and subject to a number of restrictions.
Members heard how the COVID19 emergency helpline had alleviated some pressure on waste collection services and provided additional support to those with excess waste and how it was hoped that the bulky waste collection could possibly be reinstated in the coming weeks.
Members heard how regulations relating to virtual Council meetings and the AGM are currently being drafted by the Department for Communities and in their absence April's Full Council meeting would go ahead as scheduled on 30 April. While the meeting will not have decision making powers, the Chief Executive under designated authority, will be able to bring forward any recommendations from the meeting.
From a Festival and Events point of view, members were reminded that while all Council organised events until the end of August have been cancelled, other up and coming events such as the Sperrins Walking Festival, Waterside Half Marathon and the Halloween festival will need to be considered in the coming weeks.
 It was also outlined that officers are at an advanced stage of announcing details of a virtual Jazz Festival in the coming days.
Members heard how the Health and Communities section of Council continue to work with the Local Growth Partnerships on the delivery of the COVID19 Response Plans and distribution of DfC food boxes and are working closely with community partner leads to identify emerging issues or gaps.
Information relating to the numbers of staff working from home, frontline staff service provision and those who have been deployed to other services, was also outlined to members who praised the ongoing commitment and hard work of all staff during this emergency period.
The Council Chief Executive John Kelpie acknowledged that while the lockdown posed issues for Council, the recovery would also present a number of challenges. He said Council will continue to work closely with Government and the relevant statutory agencies and key partners in the weeks and months ahead to ensure the process was in keeping with Government and health guidelines. He said the operational recovery process would be planned, proportionate and cautious, with the health and safety and wellbeing of staff and the wider public to the fore.
Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council Cllr Michaela Boyle, who chaired the meeting, thanked everyone for their input and extended her thanks to all Council staff for their continued hard work and dedication.
She paid tribute to those in the community and voluntary sector who are providing much needed support across the Council area in this time of need and urged people not to be complacent and to continue to adhere to the Stay at Home message and helping to prevent the spread of COVID19.