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Coronavirus Northern Ireland: Pubs and restaurants close doors

  • Pubs, restaurants, cafes, hairdressers and beauticians closed for four weeks
  • Joint statement by five party leaders says pandemic has reached an alarming level in NI
  • Edwin Poots hits out at new restrictions
  • New daily record brings total cases since outbreak to over 25,000
  • DoH figures show death toll at 608 after two further deaths
  • Scroll down to follow Friday's live blog

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The Crown Bar in Belfast as pubs, restaurants and cafes close their doors to sit-in customers.

The Crown Bar in Belfast as pubs, restaurants and cafes close their doors to sit-in customers.

Colm Lenghan/Pacemaker Press

The Crown Bar in Belfast as pubs, restaurants and cafes close their doors to sit-in customers.

Pubs, restaurants and cafes have closed their doors to sit-in customers as tough new Covid-19 restrictions are imposed in Northern Ireland.

Hair and beauty salons have also been forced to shut, while gyms face additional measures for the next four weeks.

Other businesses, like driving instructors, cinemas and bingo halls, only received confirmation that they were no longer permitted to operate at the eleventh hour.

The power-sharing administration yesterday announced the expansion of a local financial support scheme to assist businesses that are being forced to close as a result of the four-week "circuit break".

It comes as party leaders across the political divide appealed for the public to adhere to the new restrictions.

"We have four weeks to turn this around and we're appealing to everyone to please get behind this effort to fight back againt Covid-19", read the statement from the five main party leaders.

Earlier on Friday, the DUP's Edwin Poots launched a scathing attack on the new restrictions agreed by the Executive - in which he is the Environment Minister.

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Edwin Poots with Arlene Foster

Edwin Poots with Arlene Foster

Edwin Poots with Arlene Foster

"It has all been done very hastily, therefore it is not going to be of a high quality (the messaging of the restrictions). I would have grave reservations about the number of things that have been applied," he told the BBC.

"I want to see everything that we do based upon science and the science to demonstrate to us how it can make a real and tangible difference before we actually go ahead and do things that will harm people's livelihoods.

"We can't live in eternal lockdown, people have to live their lives and we have to get to to the point where we can ensure life can continue, but in a way that is much more measured than it has been previously.

"I have talked directly to the Chief Medical Officer and the Chief Scientific Advisor and indicated that we need to take an entirely different approach to the one we are currently taking."

A record 1,299 new cases of the virus were announced on Friday, along with two further deaths - bringing the death toll to 608.

The total number of confirmed cases since the outbreak began in Northern Ireland now stands at 25,177. Some 6,708 people - or just over a quarter of the total - have tested positive in the last seven days alone.

The two fatalities happened on Thursday, one was a woman aged 80 and over who died in a hospital in the Derry City and Strabane area, while the other was a man aged between 60 and 79 who died in a hospital in Belfast.

There are currently 213 Covid patients in hospitals across Northern Ireland, with 26 patients in intensive care and 20 requiring ventilation.

A total of 72 care homes are dealing with outbreaks of the virus.

Follow Friday's live blog below:

Belfast Telegraph