Lockdown: Northern Ireland officially closed for business!
Well don't say I did not warn you, but here we go again!
Northern Ireland will close its pubs for a month from Friday and shut schools for a fortnight from next week under a circuit-breaker lockdown, First Minister Arlene Foster announced today.
The province will ramp up its coronavirus measures after it suffered a sharp up-spike in cases. Some 863 cases were reported in Northern Ireland yesterday - bringing the total to 21,898 - along with seven new deaths.
It came as Ireland this morning suggested that it will consider altering its own coronavirus measures in the counties that border Ulster.
Ms Foster told the Stormont Assembly this morning the rising figures were of 'grave concern'.
'We fully appreciate that this will be difficult and worrying news for a lot of people,' she told MLAs.
'The Executive has taken this decision because it is necessary, and we discussed the impacts in great detail. We do not take this step lightly.'
She pledged to look at business support 'as a priority' .
The measures will see pubs and restaurants shut ahead of this weekend, with the exception of takeaways and deliveries. Off-licences will have to close at 8pm, with the same cut off for supermarkets to sell alcohol.
Shops will remain open, as will gyms for individual training. Churches will also stay open, but with a 25-person guest limit on funerals and weddings. Receptions are banned.
The fortnight school closure includes a week of half-term holiday, so children would only miss a single week of lessons.
While the moves do not amount to a full scale lockdown similar to that imposed during the first wave of the virus, they mark a significant ramping up in Northern Ireland's response to spiraling infection rates.
Ms Foster said she hoped further support measures for those affected by the latest restrictions would be signed off by another meeting of ministers on Thursday.
'There will be better days if people take personal responsibility for their actions.
'I plead with people today, please take personal responsibility for your actions. Please work with us.'
More jobs, more homes, more lives lost to the Covid madness. One has to ask, when will this lunacy ever end?
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