Coronavirus: Mixed reaction to localised restrictions in Lisburn and Belfast

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People living in the Belfast council area, Ballymena and some other nearby postcode areas are facing new Covid-19 restrictions after a rise in cases.

The affected postcodes include BT43, BT28 and BT29, which take in areas north east of Ballymena and parts of Glenavy, Lisburn and Crumlin.

Restrictions include a ban on visiting other households, with exceptions, and advice against "non-essential" travel.

No more than six people from two homes can meet up in a private garden.

However, the announcement caused confusion hours after it was announced on Thursday, as BBC News NI has been hearing from some residents from the areas affected.

'Confusing'

Stephanie and Matt Degnan, who live in the BT28 area, which takes in parts of Lisburn and Belfast, said they were willing to accept the new rules, but they need more information on how it will affect where they can go.

"It's understandable that they have to put these measures in place but we initially thought it was very confusing," said Stephanie.

"You're happy enough to go along with these things because that's what the guidelines recommend.

"It just seems that they, kind of, deliver these statements and don't really do any follow-up explanations for the scenarios. So if I'm in a particular scenario, what does that mean for me?"

She said she was concerned about not being able to visit family members, until Matt pointed out that under the exceptions she could form a social "bubble" with her mother.

Matt said he didn't think the rules would cause much disruption to their lives.

"We're working from home. You've got everything on your doorstep to be honest - you've got a cinema, you've got supermarkets and stuff, so not a lot really," he said.

"It's fair enough I think, rather than imposing it on everybody. Let's see what happens and do it in little spots to see how it goes."

'Very unclear'

Graeme Kelly said he had heard snippets of the announcement before leaving the house to walk his dog, but wasn't sure how it would affect his own family.

image captionGraeme Kelly said the rules were very unclear

"Well there is six of us living in the household, so we [can have] no visitors then at all - is that right?

"I work on Boucher Road so I'm not sure even if we're allowed to leave the area because they were saying it's for essential travel.

"It's very unclear."

'Lights turned off again'

Jacqueline Montgomery said she was "a bit shocked" that restrictions were being re-imposed in her area so soon, just as she was looking forward to life getting back to normal.

"I think the lockdown has had massive influence on people's mental health and and just when you thought we're coming out of the dark side into the light... the lights have been turned off again.

"I have a very close family and we do visit each other," she added.

image captionJacqueline Montgomery said it feels like "the lights have been turned off again"

"My dad is in his early 70s and he's on his own - my mum died quite a few years ago - so we rely on each other. So it's going to be a strange one, not calling on each other again."

She added that her local church had reopened only three weeks ago and she now fears it may soon have to close again.

"I sing at a local choir - we haven't been able to sing in so long and is this going to bring (church) restrictions down again?"

'It's too much'

In Belfast, one resident told BBC News NI he could "understand the justification", but added: "The messaging is bad and you ask yourself questions about how fully you should comply when you're aware that others will not."

A new mother in Belfast said: "I don't understand how you can go out to a restaurant Monday to Wednesday with 50% off, but you can't go and see family members indoors.

"I had a baby at the end of December.

"Having a newborn but not being able to go out and socialise has been like going through [new motherhood] alone. You need that interaction with other people. It's heartbreaking - it's just too much."

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