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Northern Ireland regional newspapers return after coronavirus suspension

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The front page of the Co Down Spectator when it temporarily closed

The front page of the Co Down Spectator when it temporarily closed

The front page of the Co Down Spectator when it temporarily closed

A string of Co Down newspapers which had suspended publication during lockdown are to return.

The Newry Reporter paused publication in April for the first time since 1867. Now the family-owned publication will be back on the shelves on June 3, it announced yesterday.

And it's expected that sister title, The Banbridge Chronicle, will return at the end of June. The newspapers are owned by the Hodgett family.

The temporary suspension of the papers was announced on April 8, when Reporter editor Paul Welsh said that while it had been in continuous publication since 1867, "it has taken the spread of the Covid-19 virus to almost stop us in our tracks".

And the Newtownards Chronicle and Co Down Spectator will return on Thursday this week.

The titles are part of The Spectator Group, which had also announced that they were suspending publication as a result of a fall in revenues following the outbreak and subsequent lockdown.

Other newspaper groups, including JPI Media, which owns the News Letter, introduced pay cuts and put some sales staff on furlough.

And Belfast Telegraph and Sunday Life publisher INM also announced it had put around 90 commercial staff across its operations on the island of Ireland on furlough.

The furlough scheme, introduced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak at the outset of the coronavirus pandemic, is to continue until the end of October.

However, from August, employers will be required to contribute towards employees' wages.

Belfast Telegraph