Across the border! Many businesses in the North reopening today as further Covid restrictions are eased

Donegal shoppers heading into the North urged to remain vigilant

Across the border! Many businesses in the North reopening today as further Covid restrictions are eased

The Moviebowl in Derry will be among the local businesses reopening today.

Many businesses in the North will reopen today for the first time in months due to the latest easing of the lockdown restrictions.

A wide range of sectors, including pubs, restaurants and hotels, can fully reopen from today - and people from Donegal who head into the North will be able to avail of the easing of Covid restrictions.

Pubs with outdoor spaces have been allowed to serve outside for several weeks.

However, today is the key date that most local businesses have been looking forward to.

Derry along with the likes of Strabane and Enniskillen are likely to see an increase in trade from Donegal residents, compared with previous Mondays.

Dawn McLaughlin, President of the Londonderry Chamber of Commerce, urged people to remain vigilant against Covid, but said it was a great day for the economy.

“We have been consistent in our message that we aren’t fully open until we’re all open,” she said.

"The high street and city centre businesses are reliant on each other to thrive so it is great news that indoor hospitality and other indoor businesses like cinemas will be allowed to reopen.

“We can now begin to look towards the busy summer period and our economic recovery.”

However, she added that there remains 'some ambiguity and grey areas' within the hospitality industry over what is exactly required of them to reopen.

“It’s important that the relevant authorities take a lenient and educational approach which supports our hospitality businesses and doesn’t punish them any further, especially as many of them have invested time and money in making their premises Covid-secure.

“These latest relaxations coupled with the continued success of the vaccine programme bring a real sense of optimism and positivity for the coming weeks and months.

“Businesses are excited to reopen and welcome back customers and we would urge people to stay, shop and support local as they get back out and about.

“It’s also crucial that we continue to follow the basics of mask wearing, hand washing, good ventilation, and social distancing to keep cases down and ensure the economy isn’t restricted again.”

Cases rate fallen

Meanwhile, the rate of Covid cases in Derry's council area has fallen in the past seven days – but remains the highest in Northern Ireland.

The latest figures released yesterday by the Department of Health show that there were 117 positive Covid cases reported in the Derry City and Strabane District Council area during the seven-day period from May 14 to May 20.

This is in comparison with 161 positive cases in Derry and Strabane in the previous seven-day period from May 7 to May 13.

The current rate of Covid cases in the local council area is 77.7 per 100,000 of the population.

This is the highest rate of the 11 councils in Northern Ireland.

During the period from May 14 to May 20, a total of 3,731 people received a Covid test in the Derry and Strabane council area.

While the number of local cases remain high, the impact of Covid on local hospital services is decreasing. There are no Covid patients being treated in the intensive care unit at Altnagelvin Hospital.

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