Concern as group of youths gather together in Newcastle

Concern as group of youths gather together in Newcastle

20 May 2020

GROUPS of up to 30 youths gathering in the Newcastle area could be spreading the deadly coronavirus, a local politician has warned.

The warning comes after the latest figures published by the Department of Health revealed that 31 people in the Newry, Mourne and Down Council area have lost their lives to the disease.

Reports of a busy Newcastle town centre have been widely circulating on social media with many residents concerned that some aspects of life in the resort appear to be returning to normal.

Local councillor Willie Clarke says people need to recognise that lockdown measures remain in place and are there to save lives and protect the NHS. He said the “stay at home” message must be heeded as the virus remains active.

The local politician is also concerned at the decision to reopen Tollymore Forest Park which, he fears, could send out the message that “Newcastle is open for business when the opposite is true”.

He believes the decision to reopen government-owned forest parks was wrong, pointing to Newry, Mourne and Down Council’s decision not to reopen its parks and beaches.

He said: “The stay at home message needs to be taken on board by everyone. 

“We are not out of the woods yet and if we need to go out, it must only be for essential journeys. We also need to keep exercising social distancing. The vast majority of people get this message nut there are others who don’t and that is worrying.”

Cllr Clarke said he has been disturbed to discover that groups of up to 30 youths — some of them on motorbikes — were congregating in the Newcastle area.

“Newcastle is a tourism destination which, like every other town and village, effectively remains 

in lockdown at this stage,” he continued.

“If things start to relax, there is huge potential for visitors to bring the virus into the resort. Nobody wants that. People could have the virus and unknowingly be spreading it everywhere they go.

“No one is invincible,” he declared. “These young people could be taking the virus home with them and infecting their parents and brothers and sisters who could then pass it on to others. Such behaviour is reckless.

“If the young people who are meeting up are not worried about themselves, they should think of others and stop this behaviour. There will be plenty of time to meet up when this is all over. Until that time, the rules in place, which are designed to keep us all safe, must be adhered to.”

Cllr Clarke said every single person was a potential carrier of the virus and urged people to bear this in mind.

He said obeying the lockdown measures for just a few more weeks could make a major difference.

“I appeal to everyone not to take risks, obey public health advice and think of frontline health staff who are battling to keep people alive,” he remarked.

“Our actions now can save lives in the long run and hopefully ensure that in the not too distant future our district and businesses can open once again.”