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Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon and Rural Affairs Minister Edwin Poots have put further measures in place to support people in rural areas that are isolated as a result of COVID-19.

From today, community transport operators funded by the Department for Infrastructure will be able to reappropriate Dial-A-Lift services to provide essential services for vulnerable people living in rural areas under the Assisted Rural Travel Scheme funded by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs.

Minister Poots said: “The provision of suitable transport services in rural areas is essential for people to live their lives in a satisfactory manner and that is why my Department have continued a partnership arrangement with the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) to fund the Assisted Rural Travel Scheme. The Scheme allows the most vulnerable in all rural areas (mainly the elderly and disabled) to access shops and services for everyday requirements.

"However, because of the Coronavirus this service now needs to turn full circle to help protect the lives of the most vulnerable in our society. So rather than transporting people to services, the services must now be transported to the people. I am wholeheartedly committed to supporting rural people through this difficult time and the actions that the rural Community Transport Operators will undertake in the coming period will be a further indication of this support. Therefore, through my Department’s Tackling Rural Poverty and Social Isolation Programme, DAERA will continue to support the revised services provided by the Community Transport Operators and work with DfI and across Government to monitor the impact of this revised service and modify it as necessary and where possible to meet the needs of all rural dwellers”.