How we can help Advice COVID-19 / Coronavirus Updates Keep up to date with the NI Direct's information and advice Keep up to date with the Northern Ireland Executive information and advice Keep up to date with the UK Government's information and advice Keep up to date with the HSCNI information and advice Download Mencap's Easy Read Guide on Coronavirus Useful websites for Employers Disability Action are aware of the pressures, anxiety and stress being caused to all in our global community in respect of COVID–19 (Coronavirus). We are also very aware of the impact this is having on disabled people. The Disability Action team is here to help. We are working remotely to ensure continuity of service and to support as many disabled people as possible during this challenging period. You can still email [email protected] or call 028 9029 7880 and you will be put in touch with the relevant person. We will update this COVID-19 / Coronavirus page regularly with news, information and advice for our members and all disabled people and their carers. Together As One. Nothing About Us Without Us! Our report - The impact of COVID-19 on disabled people in Northern Ireland - is now available. Click here to read more and download the report. 15.04.2021 Executive agrees relaxations to Covid restrictions The Executive has today agreed a package of relaxations to the current Coronavirus Health Regulations. Read more 12.04.2021 Ministers welcome further moves out of restriction The latest steps forward on the pathway out of restrictions are good news for our society, the First Minister and deputy first Minister have said. Read more 08.04.2021 Vaccine roll-out now includes 40-44 year olds A further expansion of the COVID-19 vaccination programme has been announced by Health Minister Robin Swann. Read more 07.04.2021 Department of Health statement on AstraZeneca roll-out The Department of Health stated that The AstraZeneca (AZ) vaccine will continue to have a vital role in saving lives, reducing hospitalisations and helping Northern Ireland move out of lockdown. Read more 31.03.2021 Northern Ireland vaccination programme expanded to 45-49 age group Everyone aged 45 and over can now book to have their jab at a vaccination centre or participating community pharmacy. Read more 23.03.2021 SSE Arena taking bookings for COVID-19 Vaccine People from Northern Ireland can now book their COVID-19 vaccine at the SSE Arena ahead of its opening on 29 March 2021. Read more 22.03.2021 Are you eligible for a vaccine in Northern Ireland? Check before you book The public has been asked to keep playing its part in ensuring the smooth running of Northern Ireland’s vaccination programme. That includes not booking a COVID-19 vaccination in Northern Ireland unless you meet the eligibility criteria. Read more 15.03.2021 Vaccines now available to everyone aged 50 and over Anyone aged 50 or over across Northern Ireland can now book their Covid-19 vaccination appointment, Health Minister Robin Swann has announced. Read more 02.03.2021 The Executive's pathway out of restrictions The Executive has developed its planned pathway out of the current restrictions and the approach they will take as we move forward over the next few months. Read the full report and summary document 01.03.2021 People who are aged 60-64 can now book a COVID-19 vaccine online To make an appointment please visit the online portal. Read more 26.02.2021 Updated visiting arrangements confirmed The Department of Health has confirmed changes to visiting arrangements for all care settings from Monday 1 March. Read more 17.02.2021 Vaccination programme is further extended The latest extension will see the start of a major vaccination drive for carers, with GPs and the regional vaccination centres both playing their part. Read more 15.02.2021 Vaccination booking extension announced People in Northern Ireland who received a shielding letter because they are Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (CEV) to COVID-19 will be able to book their vaccination appointments, the Department of Health has announced. Telephone CEV vaccination booking is now live. Read more 11.02.2021 Are you 65-69? Don’t delay in booking your vaccine People aged between 65 and 69 across Northern Ireland have been urged to book their COVID-19 vaccination appointments without delay. Read more 19.01.2021 Infrastructure Minister details plans on the resumption of driving tests Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon today announced that customers with theory test pass certificates due to expire will be given priority access to the booking system by the Driver & Vehicle Agency (DVA) when practical driving tests are able to resume. Read more 12.01.2021 Update on Driving Licences in N.Ireland All driving licences with an expiry date from 1 January 2021 must be renewed. All driving licences with an expiry date between 1 February 2020 and 31 December 2020 will be treated as valid for a further 11 months. Read more 11.01.2021 Protecting vulnerable workers during COVID-19 Employers have a legal duty to protect workers from harm. Employers should engage with their vulnerable employees about their working arrangements and, where possible, enable them to work from home. Read more. 06.01.2021 DATS offering a FREE collection and delivery service Disability Action Transport Scheme (DATS) are again offering a free collection and delivery service to both members and non-members during this very difficult COVID-19 period. To book call our office on 028 9029 7870 between 8am and 4pm Monday to Friday. 05.01.2021 Executive statement on additional restrictions The Executive tonight agreed a package of additional restrictions given the high levels of COVID-19 transmission in the community. Read more. 17.12.2020 Coronavirus (COVID-19) regulations guidance: restrictions for Christmas It is important that everyone stays safe at Christmas. From 23 to the 27 December, limited changes are being made to household restrictions to allow some social contact. Read more 27.11.2020 Coronavirus (COVID-19) regulations guidance: what the restrictions mean for you Following an increase in coronavirus (COVID-19) cases, additional restrictions have been introduced for people living in Northern Ireland applicable from 00:01 am on 27 November 2020 until 23:59 on 10 December. Read more. 23.11.2020 Murphy announces £300 million support package £44.3 million is being provided to fund a one-off £200 heating payment for those with disabilities who are on higher disability benefits and older people in receipt of pension credit. Read more. 16.11.2020 COVID-19 self-isolation grant enhanced by Communities Minister Communities Minister Carál Ní Chuilín has enhanced the existing COVID-19 self-isolation grant, increasing the daily allowance payable and extending the number of days for which an award can be made. Read more. 05.11.2020 Government extends Furlough to March 2021 and increases self-employed support Workers across the UK will benefit from increased support with a five-month extension of the furlough scheme into Spring 2021, the Chancellor announced today. Read more 27.10.2020 Coronavirus (COVID-19): consumer advice about scams During the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic make sure you are on your guard against scams. Scammers are taking advantage of the current coronavirus situation, whether it is to extort money, or to gain access to your home. Online shopping scams are the most widely reported. Download a leaflet produced by The Consumer council on behalf of ScamwiseNI partnership or read more on NI Direct website. 14.10.2020 Executive tightens restrictions to curb COVID-19 The Executive has agreed a range of significant time-bound interventions to curb the spread of COVID-19 in Northern Ireland. The Disability Action team is still providing our services throughout this 4 week restriction period to support disabled people in NI. Read more. 21.09.2020 Executive extends restrictions to combat spread of COVID-19 The Executive has today agreed that current restrictions to combat the spread of COVID-19 should be extended across Northern Ireland. The new restrictions will apply from 6pm tomorrow, September 22, and will be regularly reviewed by the Executive. Read more. 10.09.2020 Localised restrictions announced in response to COVID-19 increases The Executive has today decided to introduce a series of localised restrictions to stem the increase in COVID-19 cases and keep people safe. Read more. 07.09.2020 Please respect those who can’t wear a face covering - NI Direct Some people may be unable to wear one because of a health condition or they may be with someone who relies on lip reading to communicate. Please respect them by wearing one. Read more. 19.08.2020 StopCOVID NI - Download the app A new COVID-19 NI app has been developed and includes a symptom checker and the latest advice for people living in Northern Ireland. Read more and download the free app. 19.08.2020 New law to ensure that furloughed employees who are made redundant receive statutory redundancy pay based on their normal wages, rather than a reduced furlough rate 10.08.2020 Ní Chuilín announces cash boost for voluntary and community sector Communities Minister Carál Ní Chuilín is to make a further £10.8 million of funding available to the voluntary and community sector to assist recovery from and prepare for any possible second wave of Covid-19. Read more. 06.08.2020 The Executive has today announced that the use of face coverings in certain indoor settings will be mandatory from Monday August 10 From 10 August the use of face coverings when you are in a public area indoors, such as in a shop when social distancing is not possible, will be mandatory. Read more. 02.07.2020 Mallon announces face coverings to be mandatory on public transport from July 10 Face coverings will become mandatory on public transport from Friday July 10 as part of the recovery process from Covid-19 to support efforts to reduce the risk of transmission. Read more. 30.06.2020 Minister Mallon confirms resumption of Disability Action Transport Services Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon has announced that Disability Action Transport Services will resume passenger transport activities from 1 July. Read more. Click here to read Disability Action's 10-step guide to passengers. 18.06.2020 Disability Action seeks clarity on the Blue Badge Scheme Expiration and Renewal - Disability Action Influencing This week we have written an open letter to Dr Andrew Murray, Deputy Secretary, Department for Infrastructure, to seek clarity for our community, who are now contacting us in increasing numbers to find out what the Department’s plans are for minimising disruption and delays around Blue Badge applications/renewals. Read more. 17.06.2020 Food Parcel Service to be extended for those medically shielding As part of the transition from an emergency response, Minister Hargey had decided to invest £1.5m in an extension to the food parcel programme beyond 26 June for those currently receiving a food box who have been asked to shield by their GPs and have no other help to access food. Read more. 12.06.2020 Government and charities join forces to support mental wellbeing A NEW virtual wellbeing hub to promote positive mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic has been launched. Read more. 09.06.2020 Motability Operations is resuming operational activities in accordance with the government timeline for easing COVID-19 restrictions On Tuesday 9th June – dealers in Northern Ireland will be able to progress applications from ‘Pending’ to ‘Insurance’. Read more about the Coronavirus dealer statement and FAQs 29.05.2020 Chancellor extends Self-Employment Support Scheme and confirms furlough next steps The government’s Self-Employment Income Support Scheme will be extended, giving more security to individuals whose livelihoods are adversely affected by coronavirus in the coming months. Chancellor also outlines further details on the extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, including improved flexibility to bring furloughed employees back part time in July, and a new taper requiring employers to contribute modestly to furloughed salaries from August. Read more. 20.05.2020 Disability Action welcome the publication of the Department of Health’s Mental Health Action Plan and COVID-19 Mental Health Response Plan - Disability Action Response This represents another very clear signal of the importance of addressing the ongoing and potential future impact of the pandemic on our entire community’s mental health. Read more. 19.05.2020 Minister Hargey secures £10m for Supporting People providers Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey has announced an additional £10m to support vulnerable individuals, who can be particularly at risk during the Covid-19 emergency, to continue to live independently. Read more. 07.05.2020 Hargey - Executive committed to support charity sector during Covid19 crisis Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey MLA has said that she plans to launch a Covid19 Charities Fund, valued in the region of £15million, to help support those local charities that have been negatively impacted by the current Covid 19 crisis. Read more. 30.04.2020 Disability Action welcome Minister Swann's full endorsement of key principles on right to treatment during COVID-19 - Disability Action Influencing We are pleased that the Minister has responded so swiftly to us on this and that he has fully publicly endorsed these principles. The Minister’s response is crucial at this time of great anxiety and distress for our community. Read more. 29.04.2020 Mallon announces Driver and Vehicle Agency contact point to assist customers during covid-19 Minister Mallon has launched a customer email to support customers with DVA queries given the ongoing disruption and challenges due to covid-19. Read more. 24.04.2020 NHS111 Remote Interpreting Service launched A free remote interpreting service for British Sign Language (BSL) and Irish Sign Language (ISL) users to access NHS111 and health and social care services during COVID-19 has launched. Click here for more info and to connect to a remote video interpreter. 24.04.2020 Ministers announce protection of family-related statutory payments for furloughed workers Economy Minister Diane Dodds and Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey today announced changes to regulations which mean that people who are entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay, Statutory Paternity Pay, Statutory Adoption Pay and Statutory Shared Parental Pay will not be disadvantaged if they are furloughed. Read more. 22.04.2020 Open Letter from Disability Action to Minister Swann et al - Disability Action Response In the current absence of an ethical framework, we have today written an open letter to Minister for Health Mr Robin Swann, Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael McBride and Chief Social Worker Mr Sean Holland – seeking their public commitment to a number of fundamental NHS Principles. Read more. 20.04.2020 Coronavirus: £25,000 Retail, Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure Grant Registration is now open for businesses to apply for the £25,000 Business Grant Scheme for the retail, hospitality, tourism and leisure sectors. Read more. 14.04.2020 Hargey announces £500,000 for sports clubs and sporting organisations Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey MLA has today launched a £500,000 Hardship Fund for the sports sector. Read more. 09.04.2020 Public Health Agency - Everyone in Northern Ireland should now stay at home Everyone should do what they can to stop coronavirus spreading. The best way to do this is to stay at home. Read more. 06.04.2020 Housing Executive rent increase put on hold due to Covid-19 Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey MLA has taken urgent steps to put the Housing Executive rent increase on hold. Read more. 05.04.2020 Hargey Announces Thousands to Benefit from Food Parcels Service Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey MLA has announced that in the coming days a new weekly service commence which will see 10,000 food boxes being delivered to the most vulnerable in society during the COVID-19 lockdown. Read more. 02.04.2020 Disability Action deeply concerned by recent BMA Guidance ‘COVID-19: ethical issues - Disability Action Response Whilst we continue to fully support our dedicated medical professionals and urge all people to isolate; as an organisation we now urge the British Medical Association (BMA) to reconsider the guidance it has produced as a matter of urgency. Read more. 01.04.2020 DATS providing new Collection & Delivery and Transport services - Disability Action Service Disability Action Transport Scheme (DATS) are offering new services to both members and non-members during this very difficult COVID-19 period. Read more. 31.03.2020 COVID-19 Community Helpline A Freephone Helpline to assist those in vulnerable groups to access information, advice and guidance in relation to COVID-19 is open 9am to 5pm, 7 days per week. The Helpline is local to Northern Ireland and is managed by Advice NI. Read more. 31.03.2020 Public Health Agency Stay at home: guidance for households with possible coronavirus - in British Sign Language (BSL) 31.03.2020 Public Health Agency Stay at home: guidance for households with possible coronavirus - in Irish Sign Language (ISL) 30.03.2020 The Prime Minister's letter to the nation on coronavirus The Prime Minister is writing to every UK household to urge them to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives. RNIB have reproduced the letter as an accessible Word document for anyone to download. Read more. 29.03.2020 Coronavirus advice for people with a learning disability A booklet explaining the latest government advice on coronavirus is available in an easy read format. Download the booklet here. 26.03.2020 Coronavirus: Financial aid for self-employed Self-employed workers facing financial difficulties as a result of coronavirus are set to be offered a package of support from the government. Read more. 26.03.2020 Coronavirus: Business Support Grant Schemes Registration is now open for businesses to apply for the £10,000 Small Business Grant Scheme. Read more. 26.03.2020 Update on Free School Meals Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey and Education Minister Peter Weir have announced plans to make sure families do not experience hardship as a result of schools closing. Read more. 26.03.2020 Petition for the government to consider social care as equally important to NHS Disability Action understand the important and (often unseen) role social care plays in allowing our community to live and enjoy life just like every other citizen. When social care is threatened, particularly at times of societal crisis – we must all be ready to defend it . There needs to be a re-think of social care and the value that is attributed to it. It is integral, not separate. Please sign the petition - to get parliament to debate how to support social care during COVID-19 and beyond so that it automatically has the same access to operational and financial support. Read more. 25.03.2020 NICE updates rapid COVID-19 guideline on critical care - Disability Action Response On 23rd March Disability Action called on NICE to include specific further guidance in partnership with Disabled people and their organisations. It is important our healthcare professionals have guidance which includes and fully reflects disabled people in the difficult times ahead. Today NICE have advised "We have listened to concerns raised by patient groups about the application of our rapid COVID-19 critical care guideline." Read more. 25.03.2020 Suspension of Disability Action Transport Scheme service - Disability Action Service Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon has put further measures in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This includes the suspension of the Disability Action Transport Scheme service from 6pm on Wednesday 25th March 2020. Read more. 25.03.2020 Coronavirus Community Fund The Community Foundation Northern Ireland are adapting the criteria for their Coronavirus Community Fund - Older people - Those at increased risk, particularly in relation to poor mental health and wellbeing - Vulnerable isolated people and families, especially those in rural areas. Read more. 25.03.2020 Postponement of Driving assessments and lessons - Disability Action Service Due to the new measures in place regarding social distancing Disability Action have taken the decision to postpone all driving assessments and lessons in the interest of everyone's health and safety. Further guidance has been provided by the Driver & Vehicle Agency (DVA). Read more. 24.03.2020 Hargey introduces further measures to protect the most vulnerable and their families Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey MLA today suspended reviews and reassessments for health and disability benefits for the next three months. Disability Action hopes this news will reassure and help disabled people in these challenging times. Read more. 24.03.2020 Minister announces further support for those affected by COVID-19 Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey has today announced enhancements to the Discretionary Support scheme to further support people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Read More. 24.03.2020 Economy NI - Advice for Employees If you have to stay at home because of coronavirus, an isolation note to send to your employer is now available. Read more. 23.03.2020 Emergency Covid-19 Legislation and NICE Clinical Guidance - Disability Action Response Disability Action are deeply concerned by a number of provisions contained in the draft Coronavirus Bill being debated in parliament today. It is likely elements will be before our own Assembly and respective Committees in the coming days. We are happy to witness so many in our community coming together to contact their respective political representatives on these issues. Read more. 18.03.2020 Statement from Disability Action on Covid-19 - Disability Action Response Disability Action will continue to liaise and work with all allies throughout this time. We are heartened by the sector’s ability to pull together, we are up for the challenges ahead and we know that we can rely on the continued dedication of Disability Action staff. Read more. 16.03.2020 Measures to protect the most vulnerable to ensure delivery of social security services Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey MLA today announced measures to ensure the continued delivery of important social security services, in light of the escalating issues around COVID-19. Read more.