Northern Ireland to go into four-week partial lockdown



a person holding a sign: Photograph: Liam McBurney/PA


© Provided by The Guardian
Photograph: Liam McBurney/PA

Northern Ireland is to close schools, pubs and restaurants in a raft of new restrictions to try to contain exploding rates of Covid-19 infection.

Arlene Foster, the first minister, announced the partial lockdown on Wednesday at a special sitting of the Stormont assembly in response to what has become a pandemic hotspot.

The new rules start on Friday and are to last four weeks with the exception of schools, which will shut for two weeks.

The hospitality sector will close apart from deliveries and takeaways. Off-licences and supermarkets cannot sell alcohol after 8pm. There will be no indoor sport or organised contact sport involving mixing of households, other than at elite level.

Close-contact services, apart from essential health services, are to cease. Mobile hairdressers and make-up artists are banned from from working in homes. Gyms can remain open for individual training but no classes are permitted. Places of worship can stay open but people must wear face coverings when entering and exiting.



a person holding a sign: Richmond shopping centre in Derry. The city and the Strabane council area have a rate of 970 per 100,000 people.


© Photograph: Liam McBurney/PA
Richmond shopping centre in Derry. The city and the Strabane council area have a rate of 970 per 100,000 people.

Bubbling will be limited to 10 people, with no overnight stays unless people are in a bubble. Universities will be encouraged to use distance learning only.

“The executive has taken this decision because it is necessary,” Foster, the leader of the Democratic Unionist party, told the assembly. “We do not take this step lightly.” She said the measures did not amount to a lockdown and promised financial supports to cushion businesses. Some business leaders had lobbied against fresh restrictions, warning of bankruptcies and job losses.

Foster implored people and businesses to get “back to the basics” of social distancing, hand hygiene and other measures and hinted at further measures should infection rates continue to climb. “We will need to exit these arrangement most carefully.”

Northern Ireland’s cumulative seven-day rate of infections per 100,000 people is 334, one of the highest in Europe. Derry city and the Strabane council area have a rate of 970 per 100,000 people – far outstripping Liverpool, England’s worst hit city, with 634 cases per 100,000 people.

On Tuesday Northern Ireland’s department of health reported seven deaths and another 863 infections. Some 6,286 new cases of the virus have been recorded in the last seven days, raising the total since the pandemic began to 21,898.

The Belfast health trust cancelled 105 elective surgeries because of Covid-related pressure, saying it had reached a “trigger point” for admitting patients to intensive care.

Of 150 people being treated in hospital for coronavirus 23 are in intensive care and 15 are on a ventilator. At two hospitals run by the Northern health and social care trust more than 30 nurses are self-isolating because of a Covid-19 outbreak.

The new restrictions came amid intense behind-the-scenes wrangling in the power-sharing executive, with the DUP balking at demands from Sinn Féin and other parties for a sharper “circuit-breaker” lockdown,

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Northern Health – Home | Facebook

Northern Health has launched a COVID-19 Online Clinic and Information Line to help answer questions and concerns from Northern BC residents. The NH COVID-19 Online Clinic and Information Line can be reached at 1-844-645-7811.

We are launching this service to ensure Northern Health residents have access to information, health advice, and an online clinic to reduce the transmission of COVID-19, while reducing demand on emergency rooms and other health services.

This service is staffed by nurses, physicians, and nurse practitioners, offering virtual screening and assessment for individuals who feel they may have COVID-19 or feel they have been exposed. By calling the Online Clinic, Northern BC residents can receive information, may undergo virtual screening, be assessed by a nurse, and may see a physician or nurse practitioner if it is required.

Other options for health information and advice continue to be available, including calling your primary care provider, or contacting HealthLink BC (8-1-1) at any time.

For general COVID-19 health advice and answers to common questions, please continue to visit: http://www.bccdc.ca/…/diseases-co…/covid-19/common-questions

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