MEA facility shutdown
All civic gatherings in Mid and East Antrim have been postponed in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
At a special meeting behind closed doors, the local authority has also decided to shut its leisure centres in Larne, Carrickfergus and Ballymena and all community centres in the borough.
Carrickfergus Castle, one of the borough’s main showpiece tourist attractions is now closed. The medieval landmark attracted approximately 49,000 visitors in 2019, according to Department for Communities.
A £1m restoration of the castle keep was opened by Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey last month.
Also shut are Carnfunnock caravan site, outside Larne, Ballymena Showgrounds and Bentra Golf Course in Whitehead as well as council-run theatres and museums.
The Gobbins, in Islandmagee will remain open this week with a further announcement expected on opening hours.
VE Day commemorations and Friends Goodwill Festival due to take place in May have been cancelled.
Restrictions are in place at a number of locations including Carrickfergus Marina Building where just two members of the public are permitted at a time for “social distancing”.
Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has stated on social media: “At a special meeting of council, elected members made a number of decisions in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
“These were agreed in line with the UK Government and Public Health Agency guidance.
“Council remains clear that we will support citizens in whatever way we can.
“We are currently realigning what we do so that we can meet the new needs of our community.”
Bin collections will continue and public toilets will remain open with an “enhanced cleaning schedule”.
There will also be access to play parks and open spaces.
Registrations of births, deaths and marriages will be available by appointment only.
Meanwhile, the council’s chief executive Anne Donaghy is appealing to the community to help “replenish stocks” for food banks in the borough which are said to be “running very short of essentials”.
The council stated: “It is important we collectively support the vulnerable in our community and over the coming weeks, our waste services will be delivering a leaflet on how this can be done.
“Council resources are being assessed to help collect these items and identify ways of supporting the local foodbanks.”
Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter
Michelle Weir , Local Democracy Reporting Service