Mid and East Antrim facilities closing update

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has announced a number of facility closures as Northern Ireland enters a four-week period of tighter restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of Coronavirus.

The caravan park at Carnfunnock Country Park will be closed.

Following two emergency meetings, the decision was taken to close Larne Leisure Centre, Carrickfergus Amphitheatre and Seven Towers Leisure Centre, in Ballymena, from Friday evening (October 16).

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Community centres across Mid and East Antrim will also close temporarily with the exception of those which provide childcare services, including Larne Contact Children’s Care Centre.

The caravan park at Carnfunnock will close for one month in a bid to discourage unnecessary travel.

Outdoor sporting pitches will be closed due to restrictions on contact sports.

The ‘Halloween Monster Drive-In’ event, which was scheduled to take place at Ballymena Showgrounds later this month, has also been cancelled.

Facilities in Greenisland and Carrick Town Hall will remain open for church services as these are ‘designated places of worship’ and permitted under the Executive guidance.

Commenting on the decision, the Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Councillor Peter Johnston, said: “The health and well-being of our community and staff has been absolutely paramount to council throughout the pandemic and this continues to be the case as we move into the four-week period of restrictions.

“We have a duty, which is more pressing than ever, to protect ratepayers’ money, and this is why we have taken the decision to close these facilities for the short period of time and their closure will help suppress the spread of the virus.

“A very small number of residents have returned to our leisure centres and this is a similar situation in our community centres, with only 30% of our regular users having returned since lockdown.

“Over the past six months, income from our community centre facilities has fallen by 80% compared to the same period last year.

“Given the guidance for no unnecessary travel in Northern Ireland to help reduce the number of Covid cases and the financial impact from the low usage of these two services, they are not viable to remain open at this time.

“We recognise the decisions taken will inconvenience a number of our citizens but we must do all we can to protect health and well-being of users and staff, and finances during this crisis.”

New restrictions will also apply to weddings and funerals in Mid and East Antrim from Friday with the number of those attending both capped at 25.

Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter.

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