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Coronavirus Northern Ireland: 320 new cases as First Minister Foster announces hospitality sector curfew

  • Last orders to be called at 10.30pm
  • Scroll down to read Tuesday's blog

A further 320 cases of Covid-19 have been diagnosed in Northern Ireland, the Department of Health has said.

It brings to 11,629 the total number of people with a positive case since testing began. The death toll remains at 578.

There have been 1,702 cases diagnosed in the past seven days, 422 of which are in Belfast and 401 in Derry City and Strabane.

In Northern Ireland hospitals there are 59 patients with Covid-19 and eight patients in intensive care units.

There are 27 active outbreaks in care homes, while 203 outbreaks have been closed.

Meanwhile, Northern Ireland's hospitality sector will be subject to an 11pm curfew from midnight on Wednesday, First Minister Arlene Foster announced earlier on Tuesday.

Colin Neill, chief executive of Hospitality Ulster, warned the curfew will still see the sector lose hours but welcomed that the earlier curfew time of 10pm was dismissed by Stormont ministers

“We respect that health has to come first, but this curfew and other restrictions must be kept under continuous review,” he said.

“A curfew is not ideal, but we in the hospitality sector will do all we can to make this work, which hopefully will be only a temporary measure.”

Pubs, restaurants, cafes and hotel bars will all be subject to the new restrictions, which will see no alcohol served after 10.30pm and all customers asked to leave by 11pm.

Mrs Foster said there will be no exceptions to the new restrictions.

"So weddings and other social events will be forced to comply," she said.

Sales of alcohol from supermarkets and off-licences already stop at 11pm.

The First Minister said the Executive recognises the risk that the public will move to house parties after pubs and restaurants close but added that such gatherings were illegal.

"The totality of the arrangements will be subject to enforcement," she said.

"We will be looking at the fines levels we have here as a matter of priority, she added.

Mrs Foster said the Executive will in coming weeks reassess the level of fines in place.

"We will put restrictions in place if we have to," she added.

In the Republic of Ireland, those pubs that only serve alcohol must close by 11.30pm.

An announcement on the new measures was postponed last week after First Minister Arlene Foster said ministers wanted to allow for further discussion.

Mrs Foster said there was a “strong unity of purpose in relation to the way forward” among ministers but added it was “important all the issues were dealt with” before an announcement was made.

Speaking on the BBC's Good Morning Ulster programme, Junior Minister Declan Kearney said the Executive is planning to set out what was required under the curfew to "ensure we maximise public health".

He said the Executive "remained closely engaged" with industry representatives.

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

Belfast Telegraph