A host of outdoor leisure facilities and beaches across Newry, Mourne and Down District Council are to reopen to the public from next week.
Group leaders on council agreed to reopening from Wednesday, May 27, subject to social distancing being observed.
The decision was taken on Wednesday afternoon and will take effect from next Wednesday.
These include Donaghguy reservoir (Warrenpoint fishing club) • Newry Tennis Courts • Warrenpoint Tennis Courts • Kilbroney Tennis Courts (subject to the main parkland being reopened) • Newcastle Tennis courts. Kilkeel and Annalong Tennis Courts are to remain closed for casual hire, and will be reviewed next. No clubs have a service level agreement at these facilities.
Council group leaders also today endorsed protocols to be put in place to facilitate the limited reopening of a range of outdoor facilities including forest parks, country park, beaches and harbours.
Kilbroney Forest Park, Slieve Gullion Forest Park and Delamont Country Park will be reopened for pedestrians and vehicles from May 27.
The walking, cycling and horseriding trails will reopen, however the downhill trails at Rostrevor Forest will remain closed. Warrenpoint Park will re open on May 27.
Cranfield and Tyrella Beach will reopen too. As no lifeguard facilities will be provided this season at Cranfield, Tyrella and Murlough beaches, therefore appropriate signage will be in place to advise members of the public that it is not safe to swim.
Council operated harbours and slipways will reopen. Angling from piers will be permitted, keeping the two metre distance rule.
Council campsites, public toilets, cafés and mobile vendors will remain closed.
A staff-rota is currently in place with staff redeployed from other areas to undertake engagement with members of the public around guidelines on social distancing and facility information, monitoring of numbers, litter control, essential maintenance, cleaning and safety-checks.
Staff will be provided with PPE If social distancing is not observed or can not be managed safetly reduced numbers will be introduced and, as a last resort, facilities will close.
Party leaders have indicated they “do not wish to increase dwell-time at the parks unnecessarily” or “create a risk to public-health in encouraging people to congregate or spend more time than is reasonable within the parks”.
A comprehensive programme of signage will be in place on sites regarding entrances and exits, one way directional information as appropriate, social distancing measures, hygiene etc.
A clear messaging strategy will be issued via social media to indicate what outdoor facilities are open with clear guidelines around social distancing.
Messaging will ensure people are informed that toilets, play parks etc are closed before they make the journey to a facility.