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Coronavirus Northern Ireland: No further deaths and 97 new cases as Executive 'hopeful' of providing dates for easing lockdown

  • Death toll remains at 2,129
  • Ninety-seven new positive cases reported by Department of Health
  • Restrictions eased in Northern Ireland
  • Executive 'hopeful' of announcing dates for further easing on Thursday

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Garden centres in can now reopen in Northern Ireland (Liam McBurney/PA)

Garden centres in can now reopen in Northern Ireland (Liam McBurney/PA)

PA

Garden centres in can now reopen in Northern Ireland (Liam McBurney/PA)

Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill is “hopeful” the Executive can announce specific dates on the easing of Covid-19 restrictions this Thursday, as the Department of Health reported another 97 cases in Northern Ireland.

There were no further fatalities reported due to Covid-19. The death toll remains at 2,129.

Meanwhile, there has been 717 positive cases in the last week, up from 654 in the previous seven days.

Hospital occupancy is at 96% with 2,880 people in beds. A total of eight patients with Covid-19 are in intensive care - six of those are ventilated.

Coronavirus Data Graphs

And five care homes are dealing with an outbreak of the virus.

The figures came as all pupils returned to the classroom on Monday, while the number of people who can meet in gardens increased from six to 10.

The “stay at home” messaging has been replaced with a “stay local” and “work from home” message.

Outdoor retail has also been permitted to reopen and click-and-collect services can resume.

However, shops, gyms and pub gardens have all reopened in England.

Speaking on BBC Radio Ulster’s Good Morning Ulster, Ms O’Neill said she the Executive was “increasingly confident” in its ability to ease restrictions further.

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Michelle O'Neill

Michelle O'Neill

PA

Michelle O'Neill

“Over the weekend we obviously reached the one million vaccines mark, which was very encouraging, as we make our way out of this pandemic,” she stated.

“I think today is a good step forward in terms of young people being back into our schools and other areas obviously opening up.

“I’m hopeful that by Thursday we’ll be able to announce dates for other things being able to open up because of a combination of reasons and the factors look good where we have the headroom in which to move.

“The vaccination programme is strong, our ICU numbers are coming down, our number of positive cases are coming down so that does lead to a very encouraging situation.”

When asked if April 26 will see hairdressers, non-essential retail and hospitality reopen, the Sinn Fein vice president said she could not confirm that.

“A number of proposals have been put forward by different departments,” continued Ms O’Neill.

“We’re working our way through that, there’ll be more work today, but health also needs to give us the go ahead.

“I am hopeful that all the indicators are good and by Thursday, we’ll be able to give dates for these things.”

First Minister Arlene Foster said she too was very hopeful of providing an indicative time frame on Thursday.

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Arlene Foster

Arlene Foster

Arlene Foster

“There are lots of people for business reasons, for wellbeing reasons - they want to see that timetable and I hope that we can do that on Thursday,” she stated.

Meanwhile, Education Minister Peter Weir said he is confident blanket bans on children going to schools will not happen again during the pandemic.

He added that plans on school examinations will be announced in “the next few weeks”.

“I would commend the work of schools, teachers and parents for all of the work they've done during lockdown,” said Mr Weir.


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