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Coronavirus Northern Ireland: No further deaths for sixth consecutive day as chancellor announces £3bn economic support package

  • NI death toll remains at 554
  • Chancellor announces financial measures to boost economy in wake of pandemic
  • Scroll down to follow today's live blog

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Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak delivers a summer economic update in a statement to the House of Commons, London. Credit:  House of Commons/PA Wire

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak delivers a summer economic update in a statement to the House of Commons, London. Credit: House of Commons/PA Wire

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Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill answers questions in the Stormont chamber yesterday

Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill answers questions in the Stormont chamber yesterday

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak delivers a summer economic update in a statement to the House of Commons, London. Credit: House of Commons/PA Wire

The Department of Health has confirmed there have been no further coronavirus-related deaths in the last 24 hours, marking the sixth consecutive day with no fatalities.

The death toll in the region remains at 554.

A further 1,228 lab tests have been carried out on 808 people, resulting in four more positive cases of the virus.

The total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases since the start of the outbreak is now 5,765.

It comes after Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that the hotels, bars, restaurants and cafes will see a temporary cut in their VAT from 20% to 5%.

In his summer statement, Mr Sunak also confirmed a much-signposted stamp duty holiday which raises the threshold for payment of stamp duty on house purchases from £125,000 to £500,000.

That will be good news for the Northern Ireland housing market though first-time buyers are currently exempt from stamp duty on homes costing up to £300,000.

Stamp duty is paid on property or land sold for more than £125,000 or more.

Meanwhile, First Minister Arlene Foster has said police must show that no one is above the law.

Mrs Foster made the comments after a meeting with PSNI Chief Constable Simon Byrne over potential breaches of coronavirus regulations at the funeral of senior republican Bobby Storey.

While a motion calling on deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill and Finance Minister Conor Murphy to apologise over their attendance at the funeral was passed in the Assembly on Tuesday night, it has no legal power to compel the ministers to do so.

Speaking after the meeting with Simon Byrne, Mrs Foster said: "It is vital that the police send out a clear signal in all their actions that no one is above the law.

"There can be no special status as far as the law is concerned. We are all equal under the law and equally subject to it.

"The Chief Constable has a duty to fully investigate all alleged breaches and demonstrate to the public that the rules are being implemented fairly."

During Tuesday night's debate, Michelle O'Neill said it "was not and would never be" her intention to hurt anybody.

She added: "I am satisfied that I did act responsibly within the church, as part of the cortege and at Milltown Cemetery," she added.

"I take very seriously indeed my responsibility as a public office holder."

Michelle O'Neill and First Minister Arlene Foster have not shared a podium for the Executive's coronavirus press conferences since the controversy came to light.

Follow our live blog below for all of Wednesday's coronavirus developments:

Belfast Telegraph