Coronavirus (COVID-19): access to government services

This page contains information on government services which may be affected by coronavirus (COVID-19) or ones that have put in place precautionary measures.

Angling

COVID-19 update -The Public Angling Estate is open except for Loughgall, Lower Conlig and Portavoe.

Car parks and some access laneways reopened on 27 May but some use of boats is still restricted. Social distancing and other measures should be observed: Minister confirms the re-opening of the Public Angling Estate.

Benefits

Updates on jobs and benefits services, including job seekers allowance, Universal Credit and Personal Independence Payment can be found at:

Bin hygiene

Everyone has a part to play in keeping waste collections running. Find out about what steps you can take to help reduce the potential for cross-contamination. 

Bus and train services 

Reduced bus and train services have been introduced. Updates on new timetables, journey planners and other useful information about public transport can be found at: Translink COVID-19 updates.

Free travel for Health and Social Care workers

Health and Social Care (HSC) workers can travel free on public transport services, while the fight against coronavirus (COVID-19) continues. HSC Trust workers must show their work pass to Translink staff to get free travel. They can also travel free on the Strangford ferry.

Anyone working in the private health care sector, such as care homes, will get free travel by showing photographic ID and a letter signed by their employer. This letter will be made available from the Department of Health.

Careers Service

Careers advice is still available from the Careers Service by phone, email and webchat.   Support is also provided via the careers software tools

Carrier bag levy

With immediate effect, there will be no levy applicable to carrier bags supplied by retailers to deliver groceries directly via home delivery services. 

Child Maintenance Services

The Child Maintenance Service (CMS) is delivering its essential services. However, reduced staffing levels may mean that the service will not be able to put child maintenance arrangements in place as quickly as usual, and may not be able to pursue missed payments.

Community transport 

Community transport operators funded by the Department for Infrastructure have been asked to suspend all Disability Action Transport Services and to significantly restrict Dial-a-Lift services to essential journeys only.

Council services

Some local council services, including the collection of household waste, have been adjusted. There is also information about how to dispose of personal waste (for example, tissues) if you have tested positive for or think you might have COVID-19.

Courts and tribunals operations

Advice and guidance for all courts and tribunals users during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. 

Criminal record checks (AccessNI)

Organisations applying for criminal record checks specifically for potential healthcare workers/employees who are urgently required to help deal with the COVID-19 crisis can apply for an AccessNI barred list check to enable individuals to start work quickly.

Guidance in relation to safeguarding issues for community volunteers during the COVID-19 crisis is available on the Department of Justice website.

DAERA Direct offices

DAERA Direct offices are now closed to the public. All customers must do their business through DAERA online servicesor, if appropriate, through the Cattle Registration Telephony line (0300 200 7855). 

Documents can still be delivered to a DAERA Direct office and left in a designated post box at the entrance to the building.

To make sure the food supply chain is protected, current certification arrangements will continue to apply until further notice.

Driver and Vehicle Agency

Updates on the DVA's services, including the MOT, driver licensing and counter services can be found at:

Farm inspections

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) has halted all routine inspections until 30 April 2020. 

This includes inspections in the areas of the environment, EU Area Based Scheme, agri-food and veterinary work. 

The default position is the TB testing visits should no longer be carried out. It also includes routine inspections under public health protection, pollution prevention and control of industrial emissions, waste and water regulations, the ABP and TSE regulations and some marine and fisheries activities.

However, essential inspections will continue where possible. For more information visit the DAERA website

Forests and country parks 

Car parks in DAERA-owned forest and country parks reopened on Wednesday 27 May. 

Other on-site facilities such toilets, playparks, visitor centres, cafes, campsites and mobile concessions will remain closed until further notice.

Plan your visits in line with ongoing restrictions. At times car parks may be closed temporarily to support social distancing if sites become too busy or crowded. 

Make sure you follow Public Health Agency guidelines and maintain social distancing at all times: DAERA prepares to gradually lift restrictions on its estate.

Outdoor recreation

Many outdoor recreation sites and associated facilities across Northern Ireland have been closed or had reduced access. As restrictions are easing, sites and facilities are gradually reopening on a phased basis.

Funerals and burials - NI Temporary Resting Place

Coronavirus (COVID-19) planning includes taking precautions to prepare for the risk that funerals may not be able to take place as quickly as people would normally expect.

As many people as possible will be buried or cremated in the usual timeframes. However, as a precaution, plans may mean holding the deceased in a temporary ‘mortuary’ for a short period, while the necessary arrangements can be put in place.

This Northern Ireland Temporary Resting Place is being created near Belfast. It will be a purpose-built facility on land which has been obtained from the Ministry of Defence at Kinnegar, near Holywood, County Down. The land, which is now disused, has been separated from former military facilities.

At all times the emphasis will be on making sure of the dignity of and respect for the deceased and their families.

Detailed arrangements around how the facility will operate are currently being put in place, and further information will be made available as plans develop.

General Register Office for NI (GRONI)

The General Register Office for NI advises customers that the public search room at Colby House is closed until further notice.

You can apply for life event certificates by telephone or online:

    Health services

    Information on health services in Northern Ireland, specifically the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) on them and initiatives being undertaken to support patients can be found at:

    Housing support

    Measures have been put in place to support social and private renters as well as those experiencing homelessness.

    An agreement is in place with all social housing landlords (Housing Executive and Housing Associations) that any social housing tenant facing difficulties paying rent during the COVID-19 pandemic will not be evicted.

    More information can be found on the Department for Communities website.

    Urgent steps have been taken to put the Housing Executive rent increase, due 6 April, on hold until 1 October 2020.

    If you are facing eviction or are not safe where you live you can get help from the Housing Executive.

    Housing Rights   has information to help people who are concerned about their housing rights and options as a result of the Covid-19 emergency. This includes information to help homeless people, private tenants, social tenants, homeowners, students and landlords.  Information is available in other languages.

    COVID-19 Guidance for Private Rented Sector Landlords and Tenants is available to explain protection to private renters during the coronavirus crisis.

    How to help

    Find out how you can play your part in Northern Ireland's fightback against COVID-19.

    You can look out for family, friends and neighbours. You can volunteer through the Volunteer Now #HelpEachOther campaign or register for paid work as part of the HSC Workforce Appeal. 

    Insolvency Service

     The Insolvency Service is closed to the public until further notice. 

    Labour Relations Agency

    The Labour Relations Agency has made a number of changes to the services it offers and offices are closed to visitors.

    Legal Services 

    Libraries

    All public libraries are closed until further notice.  All mobile libraries and Homecall services have been stopped and all events in public libraries have been cancelled.

    LPS Customer Information Centres closures

    LPS offices and Customer Information Centres remain closed, however most phone lines are now open. Urgent queries can be sent to LPS by email. Find out more at: further information, contact details and updates on LPS .

    Marriages and civil partnerships

    You can find information about marriages and civil partnerships during the coronavirus restrictions at these links:

    Museums and galleries

    National Museums NI has temporarily closed its four museums (Ulster Museum, Ulster Folk Museum, Ulster Transport Museum and Ulster American Folk Park). 

    For updates, visit the National Museums NI website.

    nidirect online account verification 

    Verification offices, used to prove your identity when creating an nidirect account to use some government services online, are closed until further notice.

    NI Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS)

    NI Prison Service updates

    NI Water 

    OSNI online map shop

    The OSNI map shop will be unable to dispatch paper maps at this time due to COVID-19 .

    Parking enforcement 

    The Department for Infrastructure (DfI) has suspended all on-street and off-street parking enforcement and on-street parking charges. 

    DfI will continue to take action where illegal parking is unsafe or blocking access to emergency or essential services.

    The Parking Enforcement Processing Unit office is closed until further notice. 

      Registering births, deaths, marriages and civil partnerships

      Due to the ongoing restrictions as a result of coronavirus (COVID 19),  the registration service has had to make some changes, as the majority of registration offices are currently closed to the public. Find out more at:

      The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI)

      In light of the ongoing COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland is closed to the public until further notice.

      PRONI will not be responding to written enquiries or operating a fee-paying search and copying service.

      A range of digitised records, databases and other resources are available on PRONI's web pages.

      Rate bills

      Rate bills for domestic customers started issuing in late May 2020 instead of April 2020, when people usually get their rate bills.

      Non-domestic customers will receive their rate bills in July after a four-month rate holiday. 

      Relaxation of EU and NI drivers' hours

      The Department for Infrastructure has conducted a specific review of the continuation of the relaxation of the enforcement of EU drivers’ and NI domestic drivers hours rules in Northern Ireland past 31 May.

      On the basis of the current evidence provided, and advice from the European Commission, it has been decided not to continue with either the current EU drivers’ hours relaxations or the NI domestic drivers’ hours relaxations after 11.59 pm on Sunday 31 May 2020.

      The relaxation remains in place until that time.

      Roads-related compensation claims

      The processing of roads-related compensation claims may be affected. To help during this period, either send claims online or download a form and send the completed form by email, along with any supporting documents, to claimsunit@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk.

      Stormont Estate 

      The Mo Mowlam Play Park and outdoor gym are both closed.

      The wider estate remains open for those who want to enjoy the health benefits of regular exercise. You should follow official guidance and keep a distance of at least two metres from others while on the estate.

      Vehicle operator licensing

      Vehicle operator licensing will become a digital-only function during the contingency arrangements associated with COVID-19. As such, the directions should be as follows:

      To apply for a new operator’s licence:

      To make changes to an existing licence:

      For urgent queries:

      Give details of your query and provide a contact telephone number.

      Where an operator cannot use email, for any reason, they should contact TRU (Transport Regulation Unit):

      • phone: 028 9054 1410

       

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        What to do next

        Comments or queries about angling can be emailed to anglingcorrespondence@daera-ni.gov.uk 

        What to do next

        If you have a comment or query about benefits, you will need to contact the government department or agency which handles that benefit.  Contacts for common benefits are listed below.

        Carer's Allowance

        Call 0800 587 0912
        Email 
        dcs.incomingpostteamdhc2@nissa.gsi.gov.uk

        Discretionary support / Short-term benefit advance

        Call 0800 587 2750 
        Email 
        customerservice.unit@communities-ni.gov.uk

        Disability Living Allowance

        Call 0800 587 0912 
        Email dcs.incomingpostteamdhc2@nissa.gsi.gov.uk

        Employment and Support Allowance

        Call 0800 587 1377

        Jobseeker’s Allowance

        Contact your local Jobs & Benefits office

        Personal Independence Payment

        Call 0800 587 0932

        If your query is about another benefit, select ‘Other’ from the drop-down menu above.

        What to do next

        Comments or queries about the Blue Badge scheme can be emailed to bluebadges@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk or you can also call 0300 200 7818.

        What to do next

        For queries or advice about careers, contact the Careers Service.

        What to do next

        For queries or advice about Child Maintenance, contact the Child Maintenance Service.

        What to do next

        For queries or advice about claiming compensation due to a road problem, contact DFI Roads claim unit.

        What to do next

        For queries or advice about criminal record checks, email ani@accessni.gov.uk

        What to do next

        Application and payment queries can be emailed to ema_ni@slc.co.uk

        What to do next

        For queries or advice about employment rights, contact the Labour Relations Agency.

        What to do next

        For queries or advice about birth, death, marriage and civil partnership certificates and research, contact the General Register Office Northern Ireland (GRONI) by email gro_nisra@finance-ni.gov.uk

        What to do next

        For queries about:

        If your query is about another topic, select ‘Other’ from the drop-down menu above.

        What to do next

        For queries or advice about passports, contact HM Passport Office.

        What to do next

        For queries or advice about Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs), including parking tickets and bus lane PCNs, email dcu@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk

        What to do next

        For queries or advice about pensions, contact the Northern Ireland Pension Centre.

        What to do next

        If you wish to report a problem with a road or street you can do so online in this section.

        If you wish to check on a problem or fault you have already reported, contact DfI Roads.

        What to do next

        For queries or advice about historical, social or cultural records relating to Northern Ireland, use the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) enquiry service.

        What to do next

        For queries or advice about rates, email LPSCustomerTeam@lpsni.gov.uk

        What to do next

        For queries or advice about  60+ and Senior Citizen SmartPasses (which can be used to get concessionary travel on public transport), contact Smartpass - Translink.