COVID-19: Service Update

Information about current Coronavirus Health Restrictions / relaxation of restrictions can be found at: 

The Regulations are available on the Department of Health website:

We all have a responsibility to help ease COVID-19 cases and keep our Borough safe.

Please see below drop down menu for more information about current service provision and access to Council sites/facilities.

Information about council services during the COVID19 pandemic

Summary of Council Services

Ards and North Down Borough Council has reopened facilities and services in line with the easing of Covid 19 restrictions by the NI Executive.

The following facilities are currently open:

  • Parks
  • Playgrounds
  • Household Recycling Centres**
  • Cemeteries
  • Public Toilets
  • Pitches and games areas
  • Pickie Fun Park 
  • Visitor Information Centre 
  • Leisure Centres
  • Ards Arts Centre
  • North Down Museum
  • Exploris

**The HRC Updates page provides opening days/times at: www.ardsandnorthdown.gov.uk/HRCupdates

Refuse collections, environmental health, planning, enforcement/ dog control, registration and business support services continue as normal. 

Accessing Council Services

We will continue to communicate any changes to service provision as necessary. 

Please take time to look at our website for the answer to your query.

If you need further assistance, please direct your query to enquiries@ardsandnorthdown.gov.uk and someone will respond as soon as possible.

You can contact the main Council switchboard on 0300 013 3333 but we would ask, where possible, you use email in the first instance, in order to keep phonelines clear for our more vulnerable residents to contact us by telephone.

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 any 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 on the Public Health Agency website https://www.publichealth.hscni.net/

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. Thank you for your patience and understanding as we adapt our services in light of the pandemic.

Please be aware that all services are kept under active review and changes may be made at short notice if required operationally or in response to updated guidance received from the NI Executive. As much as possible, we will keep you updated on this website and on our social media channels:

https://www.facebook.com/ArdsandNorthDownBoroughCouncil/

https://twitter.com/ANDborough

The following Council facilities continue to remain closed to the public until further notice:

  • Environmental Resource Centre, Bangor
  • North Road Depot, Newtownards
  • Signal Centre

Please note, all cash handling will cease and any transactions must be carried out electronically via phone or post until further notification.

Ards Arts Centre

Ards Art Centre is open. Check out our What's On section for our latest exhibitions and opening hours: https://andculture.org.uk/whats-on 

At each of our facilities the health and safety of our visitors and employees will be paramount, we ask that visitors adhere to our safety procedures and follow current government advice if feeling unwell. 

Bin Collections and Bulky Collection

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

With many people still 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.

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

The bulky waste collection has now resumed - for more information visit www.ardsandnorthdown.gov.uk/resident/bins-and-recycling/special-collections

Building Control and Planning Services

Building Control

Building Control applications are still being received, processed and assessed. Please contact the team by telephone at 028 9127 8015 or via email buildingcontrol@ardsandnorthdown.gov.uk

For more information please visit Building Control Service delivery during the Covid–19 pandemic | Ards and North Down Borough Council

Planning Service

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 staff will endeavour to assist you with your query as far as practicable.

For more information please visit  Planning: Due to the pandemic only Reception at Church St is open to the public for submissions/fees | Ards and North Down Borough Council

Burials and Cemetery Information

Read details about Burials and Cemeteries | Ards and North Down Borough Council

Restrictions on funerals have now been lifted by the NI Executive. 

To protect the integrity of the burial service during the height of the pandemic, we implemented a number of measures. 

These included: 
- restricting the number people attending funeral grave side services (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.
- advising against the shaking of hands to prevent the spread of Covid-19
- Providing additional protective equipment (eg face masks, glasses and  gloves) to our cemetary staff

The safety of members of the public and our staff is our priority and such measures may be reintroduced in future, in line with NI Executive Regulations and Public Health Guidance as necessary.

Cemeteries
Cemeteries across Ards and North Down are open and hours vary throughout the year as below: any changes to these times will be communicated via our website and social media channels. 

November to February: 9am - 4pm
March & October: 9am - 6pm
April & September:8am – 8pm
May to August: 8am – 9pm

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

Please do not attend any of the cemeteries if you are displaying any of the symptoms of Covid19: please follow Public Health Agency advice, remain in your home and book a test.

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

Committee and Council 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

Update 01 March 2022

Community centres remain open with advice in place for user groups/hirers.

Re: Birthday Parties

  • Birthday parties are permitted across all Community Centres.

Community Centres and Halls Booking Enquiries:

  • Monday – Thursday 10am – 16.00
  • Friday - 10am – 15.30

No telephone booking enquiries will be answered outside of these hours. To find out more about your local community hall or centre, telephone 028 9182 4018 or 028 9127 8029 


 

Community Support

Our teams worked with a number of community support services to ensure the vulnerable within our communities were supported during the difficult days of the lockdown.

A Directory of Services was set up to assist people in accessing the help they needed in getting food and medicine: www.ardsandnorthdown.gov.uk/about-the-council/directory-of-services

Council staff also assisted with the delivery of weekly food boxes to the most vulnerable under the Department for Communities food parcel scheme.
 

Environmental Health

Coronavirus Restrictions Regulations 

Health Minister Robin Swann announced on 14th February 2022 that all COVID-19 legal restrictions in Northern Ireland would be replaced by guidance from February 15th 2022. 

He also strongly emphasised the continuing need for caution and vigilance in relation to the virus stating; “Coronavirus is likely to stay with us in some form for some time. We cannot maintain emergency restrictions indefinitely. A large part of what we currently do to protect ourselves is already covered by guidance rather than regulations. This includes self-isolating when infected and taking lateral flow tests before meeting up with others. The guidance will continue to emphasise all the steps that we should keep taking to protect each other. 

“I will, of course, keep the situation on regulations under ongoing and detailed review. We cannot rule out a new variant emerging down the line with new interventions being required. I very much hope that will not be the case.” 

The importance of wearing face coverings in health and social care settings, on public transport and in enclosed indoor settings will continue to be strongly emphasised. 

While Covid status certification will no longer be legally required in any settings, hospitality and entertainment venues will still be encouraged to use it. Vaccine certification will continue to be available to the public – including for those who need it for travel abroad to satisfy entry requirements of countries they are visiting. 

The remaining COVID restrictions that were removed in law from 15th February 2022 were: 

Requirements in respect of shops:  

  • Risk assessment 
  • All reasonable measures to limit the risk of transmission 

Requirements in respect of theatres, concert halls, conference and exhibition centres and other indoor venues used for performance, conferences or exhibitions: 

  • Risk assessment 
  • All reasonable measures to limit the risk of transmission 
  • Collection of visitor information 

Requirements in respect of hospitality venues, including those outdoors under an occasional licence 

  • Risk assessment 
  • All reasonable measures to limit the risk of transmission 
  • Collection of visitor information 

Requirements in respect of tourist accommodation: 

  • Collection of visitor information 
  • Requirements in respect of any organised indoor gathering over 15 or outdoor gathering over 30: 
  • Risk assessment 
  • All reasonable measures to limit the risk of transmission 

Requirements in respect of funerals and wakes 

  • Compliance with DoH Guidance on funerals 

Requirements in respect of weddings and civil partnership ceremonies 

  • Collection of visitor information 
  • Restriction on meeting indoors at a private dwelling or at a rave (30+ people) 

Requirements in respect of close contact services: 

  • Collection of visitor information 

Requirement to wear a face covering in enclosed public areas of premises; restaurants, cafés, bars and pubs; public transport; driving instruction; close contact services 

Requirement to use COVID Certification in nightclubs and indoor unseated gatherings of 500+ 

Following the removal of restrictions, advice for the public and employers is available on the Public Health Agency Website which can be accessed using the link below; 

COVID-19 (coronavirus) | HSC Public Health Agency (hscni.net)

 

Health and Safety for Businesses during the Coronavirus/COVID19 Outbreak 

Regardless of the removal of Coronavirus Restrictions Regulations, under Health and Safety at Work legislation, employers must protect the safety and health of everyone in your workplace. There are many practical steps that you can take to minimise the risk of COVID-19 spreading. 

Health and safety law requires employers to do ‘what is reasonably practicable’ to protect their staff and members of the public. 

Employers are advised to follow some simple steps to help protect the health and safety of staff. Best practice workplace measures are detailed on the NI Info for Businesses website and may be accessed using the following link; 

Coronavirus: Workplace safety guidelines (nibusinessinfo.co.uk)

 

Advice for Temporary Food Delivery or Collection Services  

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

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

Advice for Food Businesses Food Businesses | Ards and North Down Borough Council

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.  

Harbours and Slipways

Harbours will be open to all Harbour users from 1 April 2021. For full details please visit Harbour arrangements during Covid-19 | Ards and North Down Borough Council

All ANDBC Harbour facilities and services will be operating with additional control measures designed to protect both staff and the public from exposure to and transmission of the COVID-19 virus. It is vital that everyone respects the measures, including social distancing and hygiene in line with current government guidance.

Health Guidance

Please follow the current public health guidance on the Public Health Agency Website: https://www.publichealth.hscni.net/

Please continue to look out for family, friends and neighbours who are vulnerable.

Home visits

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

Household Recycling Centres

Household Recycling Centres are currently operating as normal. For more information visit www.ardsandnorthdown.gov.uk/HRCUpdates

Updated hours of operation from Tuesday 1st September 2020

Ballygowan, Comber, Donaghadee, Millisle, Newtownards, Kircubbin and Portaferry Household Recycling Centres will be open:

  • Monday to Friday from 8am to 4.45pm 
  • Saturday from 8am to 4.15pm
  • Sunday: Closed 

Holywood Household Recycling Centre will be open:

  • Monday to Wednesday from 8am to 4.45pm
  • Thursday: Closed 
  • Friday and Saturday from 8am to 4.45pm
  • Sunday from 10am to 3.45pm

Balloo (Bangor) Household Recycling Centre will be open: 

  • Monday to Friday from 8am to 4.45pm
  • Saturday and Sunday from 9am to 4.45pm

From Tuesday 1st September, booking is no longer required at any of the Household Recycling Centres. 

Housing Guidance (Private Rented Landlords and 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 Facilities

Ards Blair Mayne Wellbeing and Leisure Complex, Comber Leisure Centre and Portaferry Sports Centre are open.

Booking details, pricing and full details on any restrictions can be found here www.leisureardsandnorthdown.com/reopening 

You can also find the latest updates on the Leisure Facebook page 

The Exercise at Home classes that were produced during lockdown are still available for you to enjoy at home: find them at https://www.leisureardsandnorthdown.com/eah

Licensing

Licensing Services offices are providing a reduced service and the office is closed to the public.

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 complete the application form that has been sent to them and return it either by post or email before the expiry date of their current licence. This will ensure that they will be able to continue to provide activities covered by their licence once they begin to reopen their businesses.

The Council will contact the applicant when the fee and test certification is required to complete the application.

We will keep you informed as the situation changes.

North Down Museum

North Down Museum is open to visitors. Check out our What's On section for our latest exhibitions and opening hours: https://andculture.org.uk/whats-on 

At each of our facilities the health and safety of our visitors and employees will be paramount, we ask that visitors adhere to our safety procedures and follow current government advice if feeling unwell. 

Parks and Playparks

Our parks and playparks are open. Please be responsible if enjoying our beautiful parks and open spaces:

  • Keep your distance from others
  • Maintain good hand hygiene
  • If bins are full, take your litter home and recycle it appropriately
  • Be considerate of others and #ShareTheSpace
  • Keep dogs under control

Following Northern Ireland Executive guidance, all 68 play parks across the Borough reopened10 July 2020 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 worked 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 is closed, 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 temporary 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

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. 

Registrations of births, deaths and marriages

Registration of Births 

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

Registration will be taking new bookings for civil ceremonies taking place in 2021 from Monday 2nd November.  Contact our office to check available dates and to make a provisional booking.  Please note that ceremonies are likely to be subject to restrictions from the Northern Ireland Office for the foreseeable future.  We would also ask you to bear in mind that, in line with current health and safety advice, Bangor Castle is restricted to a maximum of 20, which includes the wedding party, guests, photographer etc. 

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.