August 6, 2020
Hazzard requests urgent action on Newcastle cluster

Sinn Féin MP Chris Hazzard has requested urgent action by health authorities following a cluster of COVID-19 in Newcastle, Co.Down.
The South Down MP said:

“In recent days it would appear that a COVID19 cluster has developed in the Newcastle area. 

“Myself and local Sinn Féin Councillor Willie Clarke have now requested that the Public Health Agency urgently locate a mobile testing centre in the Newcastle area in response.

“In recent weeks we have seen a significant rise in visitors to Newcastle and the growing concern of the local community is that many visitors are too relaxed when it comes to adhering to guidelines on social distancing and face masks.

“This lack of compliance not only puts the immediate person at risk, but also the frontline hospitality staff, retail workers and the local community and further easing of restrictions.

“While I also welcome and thank the vast majority of businesses who have invested large sums of money to ensure maximum protection for staff and customers, it is concerning and unacceptable that a small minority have not done so.

“All staff must have access to PPE, awareness training and their working conditions made safe to ensure minimal risks to staff and customer alike.

“In Newcastle and indeed across the North, we need to see increased social solidarity.

“I am encouraging the public to download the stop covid app and to wear face masks; for businesses to take all possible steps to protect staff and customers; and of course the statutory agencies to play a more proactive role in ensuring facilities are safe and adhering to the rules.

“The last thing that we want is a localised lockdown in a popular tourism destination such as Newcastle, this would be hugely damaging to the local family run businesses in the town, many of who have done tremendous work in preparing for safely reopening.

“However public health must be paramount, and if the PHA and Department of Health determine that is the only course of action, then the local community will have to brace itself once again for such a measure.

“Sinn Féin will continue to do all that we can to ensure that all possible measures are implemented to protect the health and wellbeing of the community in Newcastle and to minimise the spread of COVID-19.”

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