Belfast councillors agree ‘phased plan’ in response to coronavirus
13 Mar 2020
Members of Belfast City Council have tonight agreed a number of measures to help manage operational and cleaning resources across Council facilities in response to Covid-19.
At the Special Meeting of Council, councillors agreed that a phased response was needed to help the organisation manage the public health issue across Council facilities.
Council has agreed to temporarily suspend public tours of City Hall with immediate effect and will also close the building’s exhibition. City Hall functions and events will also be cancelled until further notice.
City Hall will remain open as a working building and for registrations of births, deaths and marriages. Weddings and civil partnership ceremonies will be facilitated.
Members also agreed to close some other facilities (listed below), however, the majority of council services will continue to be delivered.
The measures agreed tonight received cross-party support and all Party Group Leaders have endorsed the “phased plan”.
Councillors also reiterated the need to follow public health guidance and to look out for family, friends and neighbours who are vulnerable.
Lord Mayor of Belfast City Council Danny Baker said: “As leaders of the city, we have a civic responsibility to do what we feel is right for our residents and ratepayers.
“We are aware of public health advice and do not wish to either cause alarm or act against advice. However, we have agreed to take a number of steps in respect of our services and buildings so that we can reduce risks, and our focus remains on resources and cleaning regimes across our considerable estate.
“It’s important to emphasise that we are taking these steps as a pragmatic decision, to play our part in protecting our staff and members of the public with a measured plan to manage operations and cleaning regimes across Council facilities.”
Councillor Baker added: “Council is continuing to follow public health advice. Our officers continue to work on our emergency preparedness and business continuity planning to ensure delivery of services during this public health issue.
“As Elected Members it is important that we do all we can to support the most vulnerable in the community, and we will be liaising with central government to ensure that the most vulnerable in our society are protected.”
Councillors also agreed to work with the Public Health Agency and Northern Ireland Executive seeking support from Department for Communities to make a series of interventions to protect older people and those whose immunity may be impaired.
In addition, Council is requesting the Department of Finance to create a package of measures to mitigate the worst impact of potential closures and city-wide restrictions on businesses and charities, as well as actions to support community based enterprises, including childcare organisations, and other social enterprises that are a mainstay of the local economy.
Members of the public are being asked to follow the current public health guidance at www.publichealth.hscni.net
There will also be regular updates for residents on the Council’s website www.belfastcity.gov.uk
and social media channels.
All Council services/facilities will continue to operate as normal - subject to review - with the exception of those listed below:
• City Hall will be closed for tours and exhibitions with immediate effect, however the registering of births, deaths and marriages will continue. Weddings and civil partnership ceremonies will be facilitated. All other functions/events in City Hall will be cancelled until further notice.
• From Monday 16 March Malone House and Belfast Castle will be closed to the public. Functions already booked at these venues can continue.
• Tropical Ravine and Palm House closed until further notice.
• Belfast Zoo will be closed to the public until further notice.
• Pitches and pavilions will be closed with immediate effect until further notice.
• Community centres and parks will remain open at this time, however this will be kept under review.
• Recycling Centres will remain open.
• Belfast City Council organised events are being monitored on an individual basis and are being kept under daily review.
• Leisure Centres will remain open but this will also be kept under daily review.
• St Georges Market and Smithfield Market will remain open at this time.