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Northern Ireland set for further restrictions as 'urgent decisive action' needed to stem virus surge

The Executive will meet this evening as the situation continues to deteriorate with Covid-19 in the community.

Deserted Donegall Place in Belfast on New Year's Eve.
Deserted Donegall Place in Belfast on New Year's Eve.
Image: PA

Updated Jan 4th 2021, 4:40 PM

THE NORTHERN IRISH Executive is set to meet later this evening to discuss the possibility of introducing further lockdown measures to stem the spread of Covid-19. 

First minister Arlene Foster was due to speak to Boris Johnson’s government at 5pm today as part of a conference call to discuss “the coronavirus across the four nations [NI, England, Wales and Scotland]“. 

An urgent meeting of the Stormont executive is set to follow afterwards where further restrictions could be implemented.

The North is in the second week of a six-week lockdown in which non-essential retail is closed.

More stringent measures – which could potentially affect the re-opening of schools – are set to be discussed.

Deputy first minister Michelle O’Neill said: “We are convening an urgent executive meeting this evening to discuss the fast moving and volatile Covid situation. Urgent decisive action is required to respond.”

This evening, British prime minister Boris Johnson will make a televised address setting out new emergency measures to control the spread of coronavirus in England.

Earlier, health officials in Northern Ireland reported a further 1,801 new cases of Covid-19. 

There have also been 12 more deaths recorded. The total number of cases confirmed in the North to date is 79,873.

The first Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccinations started today in the UK, including in Northern Ireland. 

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Those over the age of 80 are prioritised initially for the jab. 

In the Republic yesterday, a further 4,962 Covid-19 cases and seven deaths were confirmed. 

With reporting from Orla Dwyer

About the author:

Sean Murray

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