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Coronavirus Northern Ireland: Announcement on pub curfew delayed as new funding measures unveiled

  • Chancellor unveils new job support scheme replacing furlough scheme
  • No further deaths and 189 new cases reported in NI
  • Donegal to be placed under Level 3 Covid restrictions in Republic
  • Scroll down to see how Thursday unfolded

No decision has been announced on whether a curfew on the hospitality industry will be introduced after drink-only pubs were given permission to reopen in Northern Ireland this week.

First Minister Arlene Foster said the issue "will be dealt with in the coming days" and said an announcement would be made at the start of next week. "There is a strong unity of purpose on the way forward," she said.

It's after a 10pm curfew on pubs and restaurants was introduced in England and Scotland.

It was announced at the Stormont press conference that the R rate in Northern Ireland is now 1.5 after NI-wide restrictions on visits to homes were introduced this week. The average number of daily infections has increased to 150.

Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill urged the public to stick to new restriction measures. "Let me assure everyone that we're doing everything we can to avoid another lockdown," she said.

"We will avoid harsher measures if restrictions can be adhered to until Mid-October," she added.

Mrs O'Neill said the level of coronavirus infection has now reduced by 50% in BT45 in Ballymena following the introduction of localised restrictions there.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Conor Murphy announced a raft of funding measures to address the impact of coronavirus totalling £165m. This includes £29m funding for the arts sector, as well as £40m for councils, £29m for tourism and business, including a holiday-at-home voucher scheme, £14.8m for the A6 and £15m for NI Water.

Mr Murphy also welcomed the announcement of a new job support scheme by Chancellor Rishi Sunak but said he is "concerned" that it is less generous than the furlough scheme.

Speaking in the Commons earlier, Mr Sunak said the scheme would last six months and will be eligible for employees working a minimum of a third of their normal hours.

For the remaining hours not worked, the Government and employers will pay for one-third of the wages each.

This means employees working 33% of their hours will receive at least 77% of their pay.

A further 189 people in Northern Ireland have tested positive for coronavirus in the last 24 hours, the Department of Health confirmed earlier on Thursday.

This brings the total number of confirmed cases since the outbreak began to 9,950. Some 1,128 people have tested positive in the last seven days.

No further deaths have been recorded. The death toll remains at 577.

There are 41 Covid patients in hospitals across Northern Ireland, with five in intensive care.

A total of 27 care homes are also dealing with outbreaks of the virus.

Here's how Thursday unfolded:

Belfast Telegraph