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Coronavirus Northern Ireland: Stormont meeting on whether to relax or extend restrictions adjourned without agreement

  • Executive meeting adjourned without agreement for second night in a row
  • DoH death toll exceeds 800, while confirmed cases since outbreak now at 43,902
  • Education Minister Peter Weir says 2021 exams will go ahead as planned
  • Justice Minister Naomi Long tests negative for Covid
  • Scroll down to follow Tuesday's live blog

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Stormont ministers were embroiled in angry exchanges (Niall Carson/PA)

Stormont ministers were embroiled in angry exchanges (Niall Carson/PA)

Stormont ministers were embroiled in angry exchanges (Niall Carson/PA)

Stormont ministers have failed to reach a decision for the second night in a row amid efforts to agree new coronavirus restrictions for Northern Ireland.

They were locked in late night negotiations on Tuesday before the Executive meeting was adjourned until 12.30pm on Wednesday.

Sinn Fein deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill tweeted: "A key decision still to be taken. It’s important that we follow the medical advice and get this right."

It follows angry exchanges when the DUP moved to block a proposal from health minister Robin Swann to extend the region's current circuit-break lockdown for another fortnight.

The DUP used a cross-community vote to effectively veto the proposal, despite support for the move by a majority of executive parties.

Alliance Party justice minister Naomi Long was particularly critical of the deployment of the mechanism, which was triggered by DUP agriculture minister Edwin Poots.

Mr Swann and senior health officials had warned that Covid-19 cases were likely to spike again in mid-December if the fortnight extension was not approved.

The DUP has been strongly opposed to extending the full complement of restrictions beyond the original four-week period.

After Mr Swann's paper was voted down, ministers turned to debating alternative proposals tabled by DUP economy minister Diane Dodds, who recommended a partial reopening of the hospitality sector.

It's understood that measures in Diane Dodds' paper include:

  • Close contact services, including driving lessons, can resume on November 13 by appointment only.
  • Unlicensed premises, including cafes and coffee shops, can reopen on November 13.
  • Hotels able to serve food and alcohol to residents.
  • Licensed premises remain closed until November 27. "Safely open" group, involving hospitality sector and executive, to be established to oversee this move.
  • Pubs and bars able to offer sealed off-sales from November 13.

It comes as a further 11 people in Northern Ireland have died after testing positive for Covid-19 and 514 new cases of the virus have been reported in the last 24 hours.

It brings the death toll to 802 and the total number of confirmed cases since the outbreak to 43,902. Some 3,736 people have tested positive in the last seven days.

The 11 fatalities happened within the current reporting period, from 10am on Monday to 10am on Tuesday.

Two deaths occurred each in the Antrim and Newtownabbey, Belfast, and Causeway Coast and Glen areas. A further four deaths happened in the Derry City and Strabane area, while the remaining fatality was in Mid Ulster.

There are currently 420 Covid patients in hospitals across Northern Ireland, with 50 in intensive care and 39 requiring ventilation. Hospitals are at a 99% occupancy rate.

A total of 146 care homes are dealing with outbreaks of the virus.

Here's how Tuesday unfolded:

Belfast Telegraph


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