Pre-Twelfth Covid test kits available from Orange HQ

Covid testing kits are being made available to lodge members and bands ahead of next week’s Twelfth celebrations, the Orange Order has said.

A Twelfth of July parade in Rathfriland, Co Down.

Picture: Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
A Twelfth of July parade in Rathfriland, Co Down. Picture: Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

The Lateral Flow Tests are already being distributed from the order’s headquarters in east Belfast.

Grand Lodge is advising that the tests are for use by those who are not displaying symptoms of Covid-19 infection.

The kits produce a result within 30 minutes and anyone being tested should do so no more than 24 hours ahead of attending a parade.

“Anyone with symptoms of Covid, or who tests positive, must not participate in or attend a parade and should proceed to have a full test carried out a designated testing centre,” the Grand Lodge said in a statement.

The pre-Twelfth health advice also includes an appeal for all “Orangemen, but especially our younger brethren, sisters and bandsmen to get vaccinated for the big day,” and for all involved to respect the current health guidelines.

“As the Institution prepares to mark the 331st anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne with around 100 parades, it is conscious of the threat that Covid-19 and its variants pose, particularly through community transmission, the statement adds.

“Therefore, organisers are making an appeal to everyone participating in, or planning to attend the Twelfth celebrations, to adhere to the recommendations around public health.

“If planning to watch a parade, please be a ‘Socially Distanced Spectator’.

“The routes of local parades can be found on social media or on the web.

“Please pick your viewing position away from traditional gathering points so as to avoid the risk of community transmission.”

Further advice from Grand Lodge urges those attending any of the parades “not follow or walk alongside a lodge or band”.

Grand Lodge secretary Rev Mervyn Gibson who is currently recovering from several recent health issues, including hospitalisation with a suspected blood clot, said it “was extremely important for everyone to play their part in sharing and following advice around Covid 19 measures”.

The senior Orange figure also stressed that the order’s strongest appeal was for people, even with just a few days remaining, is to get vaccinated for the Twelfth.

He said: “The Institution wants everyone to enjoy the Twelfth, but also to look after each other’s health. Whether that is simply wearing a face covering, or regularly using hand sanitiser on the day, everyone has a part to play.”

Location of various mobile and static vaccinations points can be found online via social media or the website www.publichealth.hscni.net/covid-19-coronavirus

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