SOUTH Antrim MP Paul Girvan has moved to reassure residents after the latest restriction on mixing of households became legal this week in areas including Aldergrove, Crumlin and Glenavy.
He also revealed that someone close to him is currently battling the coronavirus.
Mr Girvan spoke as it emerged that Antrim Primary School and a bar in Crumlin were the latest to announce positive cases.
Last Thursday the Northern Ireland Executive made the decision to introduce localised restrictions in parts of Northern Ireland.
Included in the list of areas was households in BT28 and BT29 which take in a large area of South Antrim from Aldergrove down to Upper Ballinderry.
Thousands of people are affected and there was confusion and anger among residents, who asked why such a rural area was being included in the restriction.
Others asked if the virus had ‘jumped over’ Antrim.
Households are restricted to having only one household meeting inside a house, with the exception of ‘bubbling’ with one other household, providing caring responsibilities including childcare, essential maintenance, providing supported living arrangements, for visits required for legal or medical purposes and weddings or civil partnerships where one partner is terminally ill.
These premises may also only have no more than six people gathering in a private garden, from no more than two households.
The restrictions came on the back of spikes in positive cases in Antrim and Newtownabbey and Lisburn and Castlereagh council areas. The restrictions do not affect businesses, churches or schools.
In a letter to constituents, Mr Girvan said: “The latest positive COVID-19 cases have predominately been caused by people meeting together in houses.
“It is because of this fact that specific action has been taken to reduce the amount of individuals permitted to meet both indoors and outdoors at private dwellings rather than restaurants or other businesses.
“These restrictions were not made lightly.
“It would be so much better if we could have no restrictions at all, however the reality is that we are not able to do that yet.
“It was made clear by the Northern Ireland Executive that this may well not be a one-off, that postcode areas could well be added or removed as case numbers change.
“This means that other parts of South Antrim could well be added soon if there is evidence of a surge in cases in those areas.”
He said that it will not be the case that we will have COVID-19 instead of seasonal flu.
“We will have it in addition to seasonal flu,” he said.
“The two together have the potential to cause major problems for those who have serious underlying conditions.
“We must act together to make sure that the most vulnerable are protected through the Autumn and Winter months.
“I know personally how seriously we must take the risks of COVID-19. Recently I have had to close my office for a period due to a COVID-19 case.
“Someone I know and care for is ill because of this virus.
“We must make sure that we do what we can, as uncomfortable as it can be, to protect those we care about and all in our community.
“I am asking everyone, throughout South Antrim to continue to practice social distancing, washing your hands for longer and making sure that you and your family self-isolate if anyone in your household has any of the symptoms of COVID-19.”
**For more reports on howCOVID-19 is impacting on schools and businesses across the borough, turn to Page 3**