Elected members of Derry City and Strabane District Council met today at the Guildhall with senior officials for a briefing on the Council’s state of preparedness on COVID-19 to provide vital Council services in the coming days and weeks.
Decisions taken by Council to date has been to cancel the planned St Patrick’s Day spring carnival celebrations in Derry and Strabane, the cancellation of all travel and attendance at conferences by Council staff and members and the introduction of proactive measures to protect and reassure staff and users.
Members attending the meeting were also informed of the proactive contingency measures being put in place to protect vital Council services. In view of this, members agreed that Council should close two of its public buildings with immediate effect, to allow vital services to continue in anticipation of other facilities being forced to close at a future date.
The main civic Council offices in Derry Road, Strabane and the Brandywell Sports Centre building will both close from this evening at 6pm for operational reasons, to allow these buildings to be available and fit for purpose to provide essential public services over the coming weeks.
The Glenside office located behind the civic offices on Derry Road will remain open to the public and Derry Road staff are being relocated to alternative sites including Glenside, Strahan Road or the Civic offices in Derry’s Strand Road.
Members at the briefing heard that the closure of the buildings would allow Council to carry out essential services such as waste management, the registration of births, deaths and marriages, cemetery provision and financial services, during this challenging time.
Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council Cllr Michaela Boyle reassured the public that Council is taking a very proactive role in its contingency planning to mitigate against the impact of COVID-19 and the decision to close the two centres was made in the best interests of people in Derry and Strabane and the safety of Council staff.
She said: “By closing these two buildings and making them sterile zones it will allow us to provide a reduced but essential level of service provision. The Council has a duty of care to its staff and the public and this is a very responsible approach to a very fluid situation. We will continue to work with our statutory agencies and partners in terms of contingency planning and reviewing all Council service provision and Council organised events on a regular basis. Any changes to services or events will provided as soon as any decision is made.”
The Mayor also confirmed that she has cleared her public diary and has decided to cancel the Mayor’s monthly Tea Dance. Mayor Boyle said this decision was also made in the interests of the health and safety of the attendees, the majority of whom are older persons.
She said: “The monthly Tea Dance is a hugely popular event for members of our older community across the city and district. In view of their age and the risks associated with this virus, it was felt that we needed to cancel this event for the foreseeable future.”
Council members will meet with senior officials tomorrow to consider progress and to further monitor the situation. The Council will continue to liaise with Governments and statutory agencies, including the Public Health Agency and the Department for Health, on advice and guidance in relation its emergency contingency planning.