Amid rising infection rates and the severe pressure on hospitals, Northern Ireland will enter into a six-week lockdown starting on Boxing Day.
COVID-19: Northern Ireland will start six-week lockdown on Boxing Day: The new restrictions coming into force will include the shutting of all non-essential retail outlets along with pubs, bars and restaurants however takeaways will remain open. It will be stricter than before with the first week seeing essential shops being told to close at 8pm and all sporting activities banned. The lockdown, which will be reviewed after a month, was agreed on Thursday by the Northern Ireland Executive.
Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said “The situation in terms of COVID is quite dire and we saw images this week that we never want to see repeated again regarding overcrowded hospitals. It’s very clear from the positive cases that we’re seeing every day that an urgent intervention was required.” Talking about the financial support for businesses she went on to say “I think this will be disappointing to many, I think a lot of people – also – would have expected it.
It’s very clear we needed an urgent intervention. I think this is the right decision by the Executive, albeit I accept it will be challenging for many, many people. We try to get a balance in all of these things but it’s clear that we needed a longer and deeper intervention.” Also on Thursday, it was announced a further 12 people with COVID-19 had died in Northern Ireland, bringing the total number of fatalities in the pandemic to 1,154.
Another 656 new cases of the virus were also recorded, with 460 COVID-19 positive patients in hospitals, including 32 in intensive care with hospital occupancy rates at 104%. Tuesday saw queues of ambulances outside Antrim area hospital with patients being treated in car parks due to hospitals being full.
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