NI to provide vaccination centre transport for isolated rural dwellers

Northern Ireland Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon and Rural Affairs Minister Edwin Poots have announced plans to help the region’s most isolated rural dwellers access the Covid-19 vaccine.

Local transport operators funded by the Department for Infrastructure to deliver the Dial-A-Lift service will now be able to transport both members and non-members of the Dial-A-Lift service to their nearest vaccination centre.

Dial-A-Lift services provide essential services for vulnerable people living in rural areas and are supported by the Assisted Rural Travel Scheme funded by the Department of Agriculture Environment and Rural Affairs.

Minister Mallon said: “Community transport operators have demonstrated admirable agility in transitioning their services to meet the needs of their communities during the Covid-19 response period.

“They have consistently stepped up to play their part in connecting our rural communities and now they will be able to support those communities again by transporting those with a transport need to their local Covid-19 vaccination appointment.

At this critical time in the fight against Covid-19 I want to do all I can to support wider efforts and this is a small but important way that I can support those who are among our most vulnerable.

“These are very difficult and worrying times. I continue to ask everyone to play their part and to follow all the public health advice and guidance on travel, social distancing and the wearing of face coverings.”

Minister Poots added: “I am pleased, through my Department’s Tackling Rural Poverty and Social Isolation Programme, to support the transport of vulnerable rural dwellers to vaccine appointments, and to cover the cost of these appointment journeys undertaken by those in possession of a valid SmartPass.

“I urge everyone to keep their scheduled appointment and avail of the vaccine.”