The Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) which was introduced back in November to help slow the spread of bird flu across Northern Ireland has been lifted.

And, the ban on poultry gatherings will end on June 1, said Minister of Agriculture, Environment, and Rural Affairs, Edwin Poots.

“This season of Avian Influenza has been the worst ever outbreak in Northern Ireland and across Great Britain,” said Minister Poots.

“Thanks to the determined efforts from the poultry sector in Northern Ireland to protect their flocks and minimise the impact of disease, we are now in a position to lift the AIPZ and reduce all mandatory restrictions placed on bird keepers as well as allow poultry gatherings from June 1.”

However, the minister is urging people not to get complacent. While there hasn’t been a confirmed case in Northern Ireland since February, the UK’s most recent case was confirmed this month on May 19, in the East Midlands.

He is encouraging keepers to thus maintain the high biosecurity standards that were the ethos of the AIPZ.

The AIPZ placed a legal requirement on all bird keepers in Northern Ireland to follow strict biosecurity measures. 

“Although all mandatory restrictions have now been lifted, the biosecurity requirements set out for the AIPZ should still be considered good practice,” added Poots.

“We are urging all bird keepers, whether they have a few birds or thousands, to adhere to the guidance as much as is practically possible. We do not want to lose the progress that we have made over the past few months as low risk certainly does not mean no risk.

“I would also encourage all poultry and captive bird keepers to remain vigilant for any signs of disease in their birds and seek immediate advice from their vet if they have any concerns.”