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Coronavirus Northern Ireland: Public asked to consider staycation to help virus-hit tourism industry

  • NI death toll rises to 534
  • Justice Minister warns those flouting rules of tightening of lockdown
  • Scroll down to see how Wednesday unfolded

Economy Minister Diane Dodds has called on the Northern Ireland public to take a staycation "when the time is right" to bolster Northern Ireland's tourism industry to help it recover from the devastating blows of lockdown.

Mrs Dodds said she met with Secretary of State Brandon Lewis to discuss when travel restrictions will be lifted and called for policy initiatives from Westminster to help Northern Ireland's air connectivity.

"Tourism in Northern Ireland has always been versatile, creative and innovative," she said. "It can't be the same as before but it can be great."

The Stormont Executive is taking steps to help the economy recover, in which tourism is a vital role.

It includes a new communications strategy with Tourism NI to communicate with hotels ahead of their reopening and include messages on hygiene and staff training.

Mrs Dodds added: "We are living with this virus and adapting our lives accordingly."

It was confirmed earlier on Wednesday that there have been a further eight coronavirus deaths in Northern Ireland.

Two happened in the 24 hours up to 10am on Tuesday, with another six were previously unreported, the Department of Health said.

A total of 1,294 tests for the virus on 888 people were carried out, resulting in eight positive cases.

Six people remain in intensive care while 68 care homes are dealing with an outbreak of the virus.

The Northern Ireland death toll now sits at 534 people.

It comes as Justice Minister Naomi Long warned lockdown restrictions in Northern Ireland could be scaled back up if people continue to flout the rules.

There are fears there could be another wave of the virus.

Speaking to the BBC, Naomi Long said the relaxation of restrictions is based on how to public responds.

"If people continue to push the boundaries, continue to push the limits, then we will need to review the relaxations that have been put in place," she said.

Here's how Wednesday unfolded:

Belfast Telegraph