Coronavirus: Car parks closed at Mid and East Antrim attractions to deter gatherings

The carpark at one of Mid and East Antrim’s best-known beauty spots has been closed following reports of crowds gathering in the area.

Thursday, 2nd April 2020, 6:55 pm

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has taken the decision to close the carpark at Slemish, outside Ballymena, in response to concerns over social distancing.

The local authority said: “In conjunction with the local community, council has made the decision to close the car park at Slemish. This is due to reports of crowds gathering in this area.

“Please stay at home unless you need to leave your home for an essential reason.”

Last month, the council decided to cancel St Patrick’s Day celebrations in the area due to the coronavirus pandemic.

A programme of entertainment planned in the village of Broughshane was “stood down”  at the request of the Broughshane Community Association which had been due to provide the hub of the event in the village.

Traditionally, a climb of Slemish takes place on St Patrick’s Day.

A spokesperson for PSNI Ballymena has urged everyone to stay close to home.

Commenting on social media, a spokesperson said: “Protect your family, friends and all of those providing vital services by preventing large gatherings in popular beauty spots and open areas.

“We will be conducting patrols to ensure that everyone is following the direction set by the Northern Ireland Executive.”

Another Mid and East Antrim beauty spot which has been closed to visitors is Gleno Waterfall outside Larne which is managed by the National Trust and is part of the official Causeway Coastal Driving Route.

The National Trust said: “We’re closing all our carparks to further attempt to help restrict the spread of coronavirus. We encourage everyone to observe social distancing and not travel.”

Meanwhile, the carpark at the Knockagh Monument in Greenisland is now closed with signage put in place by the council.

Knockagh Ulster Unionist Councillor Andrew Wilson said that people had been “flouting” the coronavirus social distancing guidelines to gather at the County Antrim War Memorial.

Cllr Wilson said he had received numerous reports of people congregating at the Knockagh Monument.

He said: “Please stay at home. Practise social distancing. Only travel if essential.”

Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter