COVID-19: Service Update

Service update graphic

Community Engagement: Let us know what your community group or organisation is doing to support people in the community - click here.

As we respond to coronavirus (COVID-19), we are streamlining our resources to prioritise delivery of essential services. Please read the Easing of Lockdown Statement in the drop-down list below.

It has been agreed that following facilities will be open for the public:

  • Parks (with the exception of all play park facilities which will reopen 10 July 2020 - please see important information in drop dpwn menu below.). When visiting our open spaces for daily exercise, please adhere to current government guidance. Please note, the car park at Island Hill, Comber has reopened (10 June).  Visitors park and walk to the water’s edge.  However the causeway section is narrow and does not allow for social distancing so currently remains closed after the second set of steps.
  • Cemeteries - (reopened Saturday 25 April), please see additional information in the drop down list below.
  • Household Recycling Centres at Bangor, Newtownards and Comber (reopened Monday 18 May), Holywood (reopening 11 June) and Kircubbin (reopening 15 June). Remaining sites will reopen from 1 July onwards. Please see additional information in the drop down list below. 
  • Harbours and slipways (reopened Wednesday 27 May), please see additional information in the drop down list below.  
  • In line with NI Executive guidance, we will be reopening bowling greens as follows:Tuesday 16 June: Londonderry Park, Donaghadee and Cloughey and Thursday 18 June: Ward Park and Seapark

  • Dog exercise areas at Kingsland, Bangor and Londonderry Park, Newtownards.

  • Public Toilets Update: Toilets in Newtownards, Bangor, Comber, Donaghadee, and Holywood will re-open Friday 26 June. There will be a phased re-opening of public toilets in the rest of the borough from Monday 29 June. All toilets open from Fridy 3 July.

  • In line with NI Executive guidance, some of our sports pitches will begin to reopen from 29 June for training only. Please see www.leisureardsandnorthdown.com/covid-19 for more details.

  • Leisure centres - phased reopening from mid July onwards. Please see drop down below.


The Council has agreed the closure of the following buildings and facilities to the public until further notice:

  • Arts Centre, Newtownards 
  • Community Centres / Halls (including the Queen’s Hall Billiards Club)
  • Council Offices
  • Environmental Resource Centre, Bangor
  • Household Recycling Centres (these will be reopened in phases, please seee below drop down menu)
  • North Down Museum
  • North Road Depot, Newtownards
  • Leisure centres - phased reopening from mid July onwards. Please see drop down below.
  • Playgrounds (where it is not physically possible to close the playground by locking a gate, signage will be put in place. Scheduled to reopen 10 July - please see drop down below for important information)
  • Public toilets (Phased reopening from 26.06.20)
  • Signal Centre
  • Sports pitches / facilities and pavilions (will reopen in phases)
  • Town Hall Bangor
  • Visitor Information Centres 

We are very much aware of the concerns around coronavirus (Covid-19) and will continue to communicate regularly as the situation develops. The health and safety of customers and employees is our number one priority.  We recognise the important role that both our teams and our customers have in keeping healthy.   

We would ask: 

 • Please do not come to Council facilities if you are unwell (symptoms including shortness of breath, a new persistent cough, sore throat, or fever (temperature above 38˚C)). 

 • Keep your hands clean, wash regularly and thoroughly, for at least 20 seconds with soap and water 

 • Always carry tissues with you and use them to catch all coughs and sneezes and then bin the tissue – then wash your hands with soap and water, or use a sanitiser 

We ask anyone who is concerned that they may have encountered the virus to follow the Government advice and self-isolate in the first instance. You can find the latest advice for Northern Ireland online here 

Business Continuity Plan

We continue to work on our business continuity plan to help us provide services to residents in our Borough during these difficult times. As much as possible, we will keep you updated on this website and on our social media channels.

Information about provision of services is below.

Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Information about council services during the COVID19 pandemic

STATEMENT ABOUT EASING OF LOCKDOWN AND REOPENING OF SITES AND FACILITIES (21.05.2020)

The Council is constantly monitoring and reviewing our provision of services as we respond to the challenges created by the pandemic. We are currently receiving a lot of queries about when we will reopen various sites.

We are taking guidance from the Northern Ireland Executive and planning how we can reopen facilities in a safe, timely and controlled manner, with the protection of users and our staff foremost in our consideration.  In relation to sports facilities that have recently been approved for reopening by the NI Executive, we are taking on board emerging guidance from relevant governing bodies and Sport NI in order that we might make these sites available as soon as possible, with all necessary additional health and safety measures in place.

Coming out of the lockdown will be a slow process and we ask for your continued patience. 

Please refrain from accessing/attempting to access Council-owned facilities that are still closed. When taking exercise in our parks, please do not gather in mass groups, and continue to observe the #socialdistancing guidance issued by the NI Executive.

Any updates on the reopening of facilities will be shared on our website and on Council social media. 

Thank you and please #StaySafe 

Bin Collections and Bulky Collections

Currently household collections of bins is continuing as planned. Changes to the bin collection rota may become necessary depending upon staff availability. 

With many people now working from home we are aware that there are likely to be more cars parked in and around all our residential streets.

Please park as responsibly as possible to allow our vehicles to access your streets and help us deliver this important front line service.

Any changes to these service arrangements will be communicated via the council website, Facebook and Twitter. Please download the Binovation app to check how to correctly sort/recycle your waste.

From Thursday 19 March, bookings for special household collections will no longer be accepted. Existing requests will be honoured as far as possible. 

Please read instructions re: waste disposal and cleaning guidance for people with confirmed or possible coronavirus (COVID-19) here

Building Control

Building Control Inspections during the Covid – 19 outbreak.

Please see up to date information here; 
www.ardsandnorthdown.gov.uk/resident/building-control/building-control-service-delivery-during-the-covid19-outbreak

Burials

To protect the integrity of the burial service over the coming weeks and months, we are implementing a number of measures.

These include: 
- restricting the number people attending funeral grave side services to 30 mourners only (From 1 July 2020 in line with NI Executive guidance)
- ensuring ‘social distancing’ measures of two metres in line with public health advice.
- limiting the duration of grave side services to 15 minutes.

We recommend not to shake hands to prevent the spread of Covid-19. We are aware that shaking hands is a widely accepted practice however, by avoiding unnecessary contact we can, collectively, do our best to reduce the spread of this virus. 

To protect our cemetery staff, additional protective equipment has been issued. This includes face masks, glasses and gloves.  

Business support

Business helpline 028 9147 3788

Email: signaladmin@ardsandnorthdown.gov.uk

Website www.andbusiness.co.uk

Council officers are on hand to  assist  businesses in the borough requiring help and guidance on support options that may be applicable and signposting to relevant Covid-19 information. 

Helpline and email hours:  9am to 5pm Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays) 

Please also take a look at our Environmental Health Link below for the latest health and safety advice in for businesses.   

www.ardsandnorthdown.gov.uk/business/environmental-health/health-and-safety-for-businesses-during-the-coronavirus-covid19-outbreak

Car Parks

Car parks at outdoor amenity sites have recently been approved for reopening.  We have taken on board guidance from DAERA and intend to reopen some outdoor amenity site car parks within the Borough on Wednesday 27 May 2020.

We all want to enjoy the outdoors with our families and friends and alongside the Government protocols and public health guidelines, so please STAY LOCAL - STAY APART - STAY SAFE - LOVE THE PLACE.

Sites reopening as follows:

Bangor

• Banks Lane, Bangor
• Eisenhower Pier, Bangor
• Luke’s Point, Bangor
• Quay Street, Bangor
• Queen’s Parade, Bangor

Donaghadee / Groomsport / Holywood

• Donaghadee Seafront car park (at the marina)
• The Commons, Donaghadee
• Groomsport Harbour, Groomsport
• Ballymenoch Park, Holywood
• Seapark, Holywood

Newtownards

• Cunningburn, Newtownards
• Kiltonga Nature Reserve, Newtownards
• Londonderry Park, Newtownards
• Whitespots Country Park, Newtownards

Peninsula

• Harbour Car Park, Ballyhalbert
• Ballyvester
• Springvale Road, Ballywalter
• Main Road, Cloughey
• Kircubbin (near Yacht Club)
• Ballywalter Road, Millisle
• Ballywhiskin, Millisle
• Millisle Beach, Millisle
• Cook Street, Portaferry
• Anchor Car Park, Portavogie
• Portavogie at the Multi-Use Games Area

Cash handling

All cash handling will cease and any transactions must be carried out electronically via phone or post.

Cemeteries

Following the decision by the NI Executive (24 April), cemeteries across Ards and North Down will reopen on 25 April at 1pm.  Please note the following arrangements.

The cemeteries will be open to the public at the following times:

Monday to Friday: 4pm-8pm

Saturday: 1pm to 8pm

Sunday 10am to 8pm

Please adhere to social distancing measures when visiting the cemetery. No use of cemeteries for reasons of exercise please.

**Grass cutting activities only began in our cemeteries after a period of lockdown in the past week.  As such they are not in the condition we strive to maintain during normal circumstances.  Please be patient as our employees work hard to improve the condition of all our cemeteries over the coming week. 

Committee Meetings

All Standing Committee (excluding Planning) and Council meetings were cancelled during the lockdown period from 23 March until the end of May 2020.

From 1 June, Council and Committee meetings are being held virtually, and an updated timetable of scheduled meetings can be found at: www.ardsandnorthdown.gov.uk/about-the-council/committee-and-council-meetings

Community Centres and Halls

In line with the decision to close Council-owned buildings and facilities in light of the current situation re: COVID19, please note that our community centres are now closed to the public until further notice.

If you currently have a booking with any of our Community Centres, unfortunately this has now been cancelled. Our staff are currently working through the bookings (in date order) and will be in touch with regards to issuing refunds. Thank you for your patience at this time.

Community Support

Our teams are currently working with a number of community support services to ensure the vulnerable within our communities are supported at this time. 

A Directory of Services has been set up and is being updated regularly as we get more information: www.ardsandnorthdown.gov.uk/about-the-council/directory-of-services

Department for Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey MLA has announced that a new weekly service will commence which will see 10,000 food boxes being delivered to the most vulnerable in society during the COVID-19 lockdown.

More information can be found at: https://bit.ly/34gJEKb

PLEASE HELP US ENSURE EVERYBODY WHO QUALIFIES FOR THIS ASSISTANCE IS REGISTERED.

Please do not contact Council, but instead:
Telephone: 0808 802 0020 9am-5pm 7 days a week
Email: covid19@adviceni.net
Text: ACTION to 81025
 

Environmental Health
  • Coronavirus (COVID-19) Emergency Powers

From 2nd June enforcement of Regulations 3 and 4 will be shared between the District Councils and PSNI. Advice is available on our page below:

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Emergency Powers

  • Coronavirus (COVID-19) Complaints

If you have concerns or information about COVID-19 NI Executive Regulations not being adhered to, see our information page below:

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Complaints

  • Health and Safety for Businesses during the Coronavirus/COVID19 Outbreak

Risk Assessments

If you employ people then you should review your risk assessments based on the most up to date information provided by the Public Health Agency (PHA) and take appropriate action.

To help your business work through this follow the link to our advice page below:

Risk Assessment Advice for Businesses during C-19

Remember: a risk assessment is only effective if you and your staff act on it. You must follow through with any actions required and review it on a regular basis.

 

Advice for Temporary Food Delivery or Collection Services 

We are aware that several small catering businesses across the borough have started offering delivery services in light of the Covid-19 outbreak. 

To help your business do this safely and successfully please follow the link to our advice page.  

Advice for Food Businesses

Please contact the Environmental Health team if you have any questions: 

E: foodenquiries@ardsandnorthdown.gov.uk  

Please include a phone number so that a member of the team can give you a call back. 

Events

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Ards and North Down Borough Council has made the difficult decision to cancel all Council events until 30 November 2020 in line with Government and Public Health Agency advice.

Existing permissions granted to external organisations to hold events on Council land have also been suspended until the end of August - a decision that will be kept under review.

The Chief Executive of Ards and North Down Borough Council, Stephen Reid, said:

"All of these decisions have been made in the best interests of public health and wellbeing.  A lot of time, preparation and money goes into organising events so it's particularly important for us to give clear direction as early as possible."

"Third party requests to use council land for events has been suspended until at least 31 July 2020, this will also be kept under review. If Government guidelines change, particularly in relation to social distancing, Council will reconsider suspended bookings for July and August."

The Council will be focusing its efforts on developing a recovery plan in collaboration with key partners. This plan may include the organisation of a number of smaller events throughout the summer should Government guidelines change. The focus of these will be to help rebuild communities, the economy and the high street.

Harbours

In line with the NI Executive’s announcement last week regarding reopening access to certain outdoor activities, including water sports, the Council’s harbours and slipways will be reopened tomorrow – Wednesday 27 May 2020.

Terms and conditions of use of these facilities associated with the ongoing threat of community spread of Covid-19, will be implemented (please see link below for further information).  

The Council's harbours are: 

Bangor Marina, Groomsport Harbour, Donaghadee Harbour, Ballywalter Harbour, Ballyhalbert Harbour and Cook Street Pier.

Find out more at Harbour Arrangements During Covid-19

Health Guidance

Please follow the current public health guidance on the Public Health Agency Website. Please continue to look out for family, friends and neighbours who are vulnerable.

Home visits

Only home visits deemed essential should be carried out and are subject to a pre-screening phone call in relation to householders in the home.

Household Recycling Centres

All household recycling centres in Ards and North Down were closed on 24 March in order to comply with government regulations on non-essential travel.

The Northern Ireland Executive updated the Covid-19 regulations on 14 May to include trips to Household Recycling Centres as a reason for essential travel.

In response, Ards and North Down Borough Council will re-open its three largest household recycling centres on Monday 18 May 2020. Additional sites will reopen on a phased basis: Holywood on 11 June and Kircubbin 15 June. Remaining sites will reopen from 1 July onwards.

For all sites, opening hours will differ from before the Covid19 lockdown and some sites will require you to pre-book your visit. This is to allow us to meet the new operational requirements in line with the COVID19 restrictions. Thank you for your patience and understanding.  Please read the full update here:

www.ardsandnorthdown.gov.uk/HRCUpdates

Housing Guidance (Private Rented Landlords & Tenants)

The Private Tenancies (Coronavirus Modifications) Act (NI) 2020 has been given Royal Assent and is now law. The Department for Communities has published guidance for this Act to give advice to landlords and tenants during this emergency period. The Act applies from 5 May and requires private landlords to give 12 weeks notice to quit to tenants during the emergency period. Download the guidance document to read more.

Leisure

You can find the latest updates and information on memberships, bookings, swimming lessons and our Exercise at Home programme on the Leisure website and Facebook page 

Information about the reopening of facilities, which will be a phased process, as well as booking information can be found at www.leisureardsandnorthdown.com/covid-19

Ards Blair Mayne Wellbeing and Leisure Complex will reopen on 22 July for gym facilities and fitness classes only (with full opening of the centre to follow on 7 August). All sessions must be pre-booked. Members who are not yet ready to come back can continue to ‘freeze’ their memberships until 31 December 2020.

Reopening dates for Comber Leisure Centre and Portaferry Sports Centre will be discussed at the full Council meeting on 22 July 2020. For more information please visit: www.leisureardsandnorthdown.com/reopening-leisure-post-lockdown

Licensing

Licensing Services offices are closed until further notice.

If you are enquiring about the renewal of a licence please email: licensing@ardsandnorthdown.gov.uk.

Licensees should be aware that if their current licence (Entertainment, Marriage Place Approval or Street Trading) is due for renewal they must send an email to the above address before the expiry date of their current licence. This will ensure that they will be able to continue to provide services covered by their licence once this crisis has ended.

All the other licence renewal requirements (fee, advertising, certification and insurance) will not be required at this time but will need to be provided within three months from the end of this crisis.

We will keep you informed as the situation changes.

Parks

Our parks remain open to allow people to take daily exercise locally.  It is very important that everyone observes social distancing guidance when using our parks. A safe distance means staying at least two metres from everyone else in the park.

Car parks have been closed at our parks and playing fields. From Wednesday 27 May,  car parks reopened with necessary arrangements and signage in place to help with social distancing.

Planning

Due to the current Covid-19 outbreak the Planning Office will be closed to the public until further notice.

However, planning services continue to operate in terms of application submissions, and processing and issuing.

We cannot, however, at present facilitate any office-based duty planner appointments, file viewings, or register viewings.

Should you require assistance, please:

email: planning@ardsandnorthdown.gov.uk

Telephone: 028 9182 4006 between 9am and 3pm and we will endeavour to assist you with your query as far as practicable.

Playparks - Reopening on Friday 10 July

Following Northern Ireland Executive guidance, all 68 play parks across the Borough are set to reopen on 10 July on a pre-covid basis with a focus on user self-regulation. That means parents and guardians are required to take responsibility for social distancing and appropriate supervision.

Reopening has been subject to risk assessments carried out in accordance with the HSE NI recommendations contained in the document “Promoting a Balanced Approach to Children’s Play and Leisure”.

In anticipation of reopening, Council officers have been working with PlayBoard NI to develop guidance for parents to enable facilities to reopen. As a result, a range of measures aimed at minimising the risk of infection have been agreed and parents and children visiting play parks are asked to adhere to the following guidance:

1. Closed Play Parks

If the play park you wish to use has not yet been officially reopened, please do no attempt to use or access the equipment

2. Secured equipment

In some cases, pieces of play equipment may have been secured to prevent their use on safety grounds. If an item has been secured to prevent use do not attempt to remove tempo-rary barriers or use the equipment

3. Social Distancing

When visiting a play park make sure that you follow current government guidance on social distancing, encourage and support your children to do the same and keep a safe distance from others not in your household/social bubble

4. Busy Play Parks

Given that they are reopening for the first time in 3 months’ play parks may be busier than usual. If the play park is busy, consider coming back at a later time and let your child know in advance that this may be a possibility to avoid disappointment

5. Hand Washing

Wash your hands and your children’s hand’s before and after visiting the play park. Take hand sanitiser with you and ensure you and your child use it frequently whilst in the play park

6. Waste Management

Make sure that any disposable tissues, PPE equipment etc. is disposed of in the litter bins provided or, if one is not available take it home for disposal

7. Be Sensible

If you or anyone in your household are showing any Coronavirus symptoms, stay home and do not visit the play park. 

Speaking about the reopening, Mayor of Ards and North Down, Councillor Trevor Cummings said;

“Following three months of closure due to Covid-19 we are expecting our play parks to be in high demand and widely used over the summer and holiday period.

Prior to reopening, council have undertaken maintenance checks and risk assessments to ensure that the play equipment is safe to use and that all sites have been cleaned in prepa-ration for use”.

Alan Herron, PlayBoard Director of Service Delivery and Development said:

“Play is a fundamental part of children’s lives, providing opportunities to develop physical, emotional and mental health and wellbeing, establishing new friendships and developing new skills. Commenting on the impact of the lockdown on play Alan said “Research currently being undertaken by PlayBoard has shown that the period of lockdown has had a significant impact in restricting children’s play and we welcome the reopening of play parks as a further step back towards normality. A copy of the guidance can be downloaded from the PlayBoard NI website at www.playboard.org

PlayBoard are currently looking for children and young people to complete a survey on the impact of the Covid-19 lockdown on their play. The survey is open to those aged 5 to 18 years of age and be accessed at https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/PBYourVoice.

Recruitment

All recruitment exercises have been postponed. Thank you for the interest you have shown in our vacancies. All completed applications will be kept on our records and the HR department will be in touch in due course. 

Registrations of births, deaths and marriages

Following the strict new measures introduced by UK Government on Monday 23 March 2020, including the advice to ‘STAY AT HOME’ the Registration Services offered at Ards and North Down Borough Council offices must now be severely restricted.

Registration of Births - UPDATE 1.6.2020

Registration services have put in place measures for recommencing the registration of births in the Town Hall, Bangor, by appointment only from 3 June 2020.

Please do not ring for an appointment to register your baby. The Registrar will contact you. Please:

1. Download, complete and sign the Registration of Birth Form, available from NI Direct.
2. E-mail the form to registration1@ardsandnorthdown.gov.uk.
3. Once your completed form has been received, we will contact you to arrange an appointment.

Due to COVID-19 we have a large volume of births to register, therefore we are giving priority to parents who live within the district of Ards and North Down.

During this exceptional period, parents will not be penalised if the birth has not been registered within the required 42 day period. Parents can continue to enrol their child at a GP Practice. They will be required to supply the following information when they contact the Surgery;

* Child’s Health & Care Number (Issued by the hospital at birth)

* Full Name the child is to be registered as

* Home Address the child will be residing at

Child Benefit

Your midwife will provide you with Form CHS1 when your baby is born.  If you have been unable to register your child’s birth due to Coronavirus and wish to claim child benefit,  please submit Form CHS1 along with your child benefit application form to the Child Benefit Office.  Please retain a copy of this form as it will be required when you register your baby.

Marriages and Civil Partnerships

We will not be taking further bookings at this time.

To cancel or postpone your wedding please email registration1@ardsandnorthdown.gov.uk with your name, mobile number and date and place of marriage and we will respond to you in due course.

New applications for Religious or Humanist marriages will only be accepted by post.  We are happy to accept photocopies of passports and other legal documents on the proviso that the originals are seen when collecting the Marriage Schedule.  We will contact you to pay the £44 fee over the phone, so please be sure to provide your phone number.

Death Registrations

The doctor will send the death certificate by email to the General Registrar’s Office. The Registrar will then contact the next of kin or their funeral director and the death will be registered by phone. There will be no need to attend your local Registrar's office. If you have any issues please contact your undertaker or the Registrar on 028 9127 8003. Registration staff will be working on Monday 13 July 2020.