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New Covid-19 measures in Northern Ireland prohibiting people leaving their home kick in tonight

Businesses are set to close and gatherings have been restricted.

First Minister Arlene Foster and deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill
First Minister Arlene Foster and deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill
Image: PA

THE NORTHERN IRELAND Executive has tonight announced sweeping new powers that will come into force tonight at 11pm to combat the spread of Coronavirus.

“The Executive has agreed to adopt the powers in response to the serious and imminent threat to public health posed by Covid-19,” it says in a statement released this evening. 

Similar to measures announced in the Republic yesterday, the new regulations will restrict movement.

The new measures flow from the emergency laws passed at Westminster earlier in the week.

These include that no-one may leave their home without reasonable excuse. 

A reasonable excuse includes the need:

  • to obtain basic necessities, including food and medical supplies;
  • to take exercise either alone or with other members of their household;
  • to seek medical assistance;
  • to provide care or assistance to a vulnerable person, or to provide emergency assistance;
  • to donate blood;
  • to travel for the purposes of work or to provide voluntary or charitable services, where it is not reasonably possible for that person to work, or to provide those services, from the place where they are living;
  • to attend a funeral of a family member.

There are also restrictions on gatherings, where no more than two people can be together outside unless the persons are from the same household, where the gathering is essential for work purposes, or if people are attending a funeral.

Penalties ranging from fixed penalty notices to fines of up to £5,000 are being introduced to enforce the new powers.

Three new deaths from Covid-19 were confirmed in Northern Ireland today, with the total number of cases rising to 275. 

The North’s Department of Health confirmed this afternoon that 34 new people had tested positive for the virus. 

In total, 13 people have died in the North from the coronavirus. 

“These are extraordinary powers for any Government to have to introduce, but we are living in extraordinary times.

“We are asking the people of Northern Ireland to make fundamental changes to how they live their lives. But we are doing this to keep you safe, to flatten the curve of the Covid-19 infection so that the health service has the capacity to deal with those who need their help the most.

“We know the enormity of what we are asking of the public, but it is proportionate to the threat we all face from this deadly virus. No-one is immune,” said First Minister Arlene Foster.

The deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said:

 “Protecting the public, supporting the health service and saving lives are the priorities for the Executive during this crisis. 

“Each one of us has a personal responsibility to do everything we can to fight back against Covid-19 for the good of everyone across society. That’s why we are asking everyone to comply with the new measures being introduced today.

“As an Executive, we don’t want to get to the stage where people are being fined for being out when they should be at home. But if anyone – even after everything they have heard or seen over the last few weeks – still believes that this does not apply to them, then we will use every power we have to ensure people stay at home so that we save as many lives as we possibly can.”

The new regulations also list the types of business which will have to close and the types that will have to change their practices if they are to continue trading. 

A full list of the businesses and sectors impacted can be found here.

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