Coronavirus: Easing of restrictions welcomed in east Antrim

New guidance facilitating increased visiting in health and social care settings in Northern Ireland came into effect from today (Friday, May 7).

The updated guidance for visiting applies across all care settings including hospitals (including Maternity), hospices and care homes.

Detailing the move, Health Minister Robin Swann said: “I fully recognise the importance of visiting for those who are receiving care. I hope this guidance will be widely welcomed.

“It is also important to remember that the threat from Covid-19 remains very real. Everyone has a vital role to play when it comes to safe visiting. That includes social distancing, hand hygiene and not visiting if you are feeling unwell yourself.”

Larne Leisure Centre.
Larne Leisure Centre.
Larne Leisure Centre.

The new visiting guidance is spread over two documents, with bespoke advice provided dependent on the category of care setting involved.

‘A Pathway to Enhanced Visiting’ sets out a new approach to visiting in hospices and hospitals - including Maternity and other services.

‘Visiting With Care – A Pathway’ was developed by the Public Health Agency, working with representatives from the statutory sector, representatives from various relatives’ groups and independent healthcare providers.

It sets out an agreed new approach to supporting safe and proportionate increased visiting in care homes. This includes updated arrangements for the safe management of care home residents receiving visitors, as well as residents being able to visit other households, community facilities and take part in excursions.

Minister Swann added: “Visiting was only ever restricted because it was absolutely necessary to do so to protect patients and residents from the risk of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 virus and subsequent development of Covid-19 infection. Given the progress that has been made against the virus, the time is now right to take steps to carefully re-introduce visiting.

“I welcome the work completed to draw up these updated guidance documents and hope that by implementing them we will take another step along the road to recovery.”

The development has been welcomed by East Antrim UUP MLA John Stewart. Mr Stewart said: “I’m really pleased to see that new updated guidance will apply across all care settings including hospitals (including maternity), hospices and care homes.

“So many people have been in touch me with about visitor restrictions so I know this news will come as a hugely emotional relief.”

Meanwhile, swimming pools have reopened to the public with residents now able to book a slot to swim at their local leisure centre.

A spokesperson for Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council said: “Our swimming pools are now open to the public, on a bookable basis only. Sessions can be booked from 6am, seven days in advance.

“Check out our timetable for more details of our sessions. Bookings can be made via the ANBorough app, or on our website:

Mid and East Antrim Council also announced that pools across the borough would be reopening today. A spokesperson for the local authority said: “We are delighted to confirm that our swimming pools at the Amphitheatre, Carrickfergus, Larne Leisure Centre and Seven Towers Leisure Centre, Ballymena, are set to reopen on May 7.”

For more information and to book your slot at Larne, Carrick or Ballymena, click here


Click here to read Larne Leisure Centre reopening plan ‘best news in a year’ says swimming club


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