THE North of Ireland will go ahead with “planned changes” from midnight tonight, Thursday, December 10.
It will see an easing of restrictions on the hospitality sector and close contact businesses which have been in place since late November, First Minister Arlene Foster has confirmed at today’s Stormont briefing.
Derry has been under circuit breaker restrictions since October 5 after a huge spike in cases at the time.
Figures out today by the Department of Health show there was a fall in new cases in the Derry City and Strabane District Council with 33 cases reported.
Sadly, one further death was recorded with the council boundary with the death toll, mostly in hosiptals, now at 81 under the department’s figures.
Mrs Foster said there had had been a full and open discussion by the Executive on the issue of easing the lockdown restrictions last Thursday.
She said “there was no suggestion we should not proceed with lifting the restrictions tonight” from the Chief Medical Officer or Chief Scientific Advisor.
The First Minister said there had been an increase in the number of cases between December 2 and December 8 across all council areas.
“Although relatively small increases, they show this virus is very much with us,” she said.
She said the R (reproduction) number of the virus is around one.
The first minister also addressed restrictions to be placed on sporting activity.
She said these include a number of changes, with restrictions focusing on indoor sport.
The restrictions include:
Outdoor exercise in groups of up to 15
Upper limit for spectators outdoors limited up 500
Sport indoors not permitted where exertion can cause participants to become out of breath
Gyms, swimming, and diving pools for individual or one-to-one training
PE can continue, but inter-school sporting fixtures not allowed
Church services to continue with face coverings
Mrs Foster added that indoor activity which does not involve getting out of breath, like yoga, is permitted.Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill told the press briefing everyone has “an individual and collective role to play” in tackling Covid-19.
“We must not forget the fact that 73 people have lost their lives this week, community transmission rates are still high, 441 more people tested positive for Covid in the last 24 hours and our hospitals are under huge pressure, currently sitting at 101% occupancy,” she outlined.
The “next number of weeks are crucial” and it is currently a “fragile time”, Ms O’Neill added.
“If people want to have a nice Christmas with their family, don’t ruin it by being reckless in the next number of weeks.
“Be very, very careful and think about your movements and whether or not you need to be out and about.
“Work with us, this is still a very fragile time.”
The deputy first minister said she is “more than happy to take the vaccine” when it is her turn and would do so publicly.
“I believe this is the way through, this is the real way to fight back against Covid and I’m more than 100% content to take it,” she added.Tags: