Northern Ireland

Coronavirus Northern Ireland: Executive fails to reach agreement on reopening of 'wet' pubs

  • Woman dies in hospital after catching Covid-19, as the death toll rises to 563
  • 467 cases of Covid-19 diagnosed in the last 7 days in NI, predominantly in Craigavon and Belfast areas
  • R number between 1.1 and 1.6
  • No indicative date yet for the reopening of so-called wet pubs
  • No changes to travel quarantine rules to NI
  • Scroll down to read Thursday's blog

Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill has announced an indicative reopening date for soft play areas, however she said no date has been agreed for 'wet' pubs - those that do not serve food.

Speaking following a meeting of the Executive on Thursday, Ms O'Neill said: "We're making very limited announcements today in terms of easements, we're giving an indicative date of September 14 for soft play areas.

"There needs to be a bit of work done around mitigation but at least it is an indicative date for that industry.

"In terms of the whole issue of pubs, something that has been quite topical of late, it is clear there is a lot more work to be done there.

"I think there is a lot of anomalies when it comes to places that serve food, places that don't, this wet pub concept, so we need to work with the sector closely and let's come back with very strong guidance next week that will hopefully allow us to give an indicative date for opening."

Ms O'Neill added that the Executive has agreed to write to the Treasury to ask for an extension on the furlough scheme.

"Thousands of people are going to be without employment and what we need as an Executive is to be able to support those people in what is going to be a very challenging winter," she said.

"We're rehearsing our argument to the Treasury that this Executive needs support to be able to support people and the furlough scheme is the way to do that."

The news comes after it was confirmed that one further person has died from Covid-19 in Northern Ireland, while 77 new cases of the virus have been diagnosed.

The woman, aged between 60-79, died in hospital in the Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon council area over the past 24 hours.

It brings the death toll from the virus in the province to 563, with 7,442 people testing positive since the pandemic began.

On Wednesday 8,013 tests were carried out on 5,431 people. Over the past week 467 people have tested positive for the virus.

In the past seven days 149 new cases of the virus were recorded in the Belfast council area, with 87 in Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon.

There are currently 18 confirmed Covid-19 patients in Northern Ireland's hospitals with three in an intensive care unit (ICU).

Of 97 ICU beds in Northern Ireland, 14 remain free. Total hospital beds are currently at 83% occupancy.

The number of outbreaks of Covid-19 in care homes has risen to 21.

Since the start of the pandemic 1,564 people have been discharged from hospital after recovering from the virus.

Check out our blog below to see how Thursday's developments unfolded:

Belfast Telegraph

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