Coronavirus: Northern Ireland set to impose 'circuit breaker' lockdown for four weeks

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  • Arlene Foster
    Northern Irish politician (born 1970)

Tighter restrictions will be in place for four weeks - with schools closing for two of them, Sky News understands.

According to the PA news agency, the new measures will mean pubs and restaurants have to close, with the exception of takeaways.

PA said closures of hospitality outlets would begin on Friday 16 October, and other measures from Monday 19 October.

Current restrictions on household mixing were expected to remain unchanged. Retail outlets are expected to remain open, as well as churches and gyms for individual training.

First Minister Arlene Foster will address the Stormont Assembly later today, following a meeting of the Stormont executive that extended into the early hours of this morning.

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After the executive meeting concluded, Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill tweeted to say "painstaking consideration" had been given to the "next steps".

She wrote: "We know this is hard and that people will be worried about their livelihoods, but we will do everything we possibly can to make sure there are protections in place for businesses, workers and families."

Earlier, Mrs Foster also vowed to support businesses and individuals affected by the new measures, saying: "For those who will be impacted by any restrictions that we agree, we will stand with you, and we will help you and financially support you as best we can."

On Tuesday, Northern Ireland reported seven more people had died with COVID-19 and 863 new infections had been confirmed. These infections are among 6,286 new cases in the last seven days, bringing the total to 21,898.

There were 150 people in hospital with the virus, including 23 in intensive care.

It comes after Sir Keir Starmer, Labour Party leader, called for a two to three-week "circuit breaker" lockdown in England as he accused the government of having "lost control" of the coronavirus pandemic.

Liberal Democrats leader SIr Ed Davey told Sky News his party would back Labour's call.

And Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford told Times Radio he was "very actively" considering a "short, sharp intervention" in the country and the Welsh government was "working hard at that detail".

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