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Coronavirus Northern Ireland: Swimming pools to reopen on Friday as Executive given power to enforce wearing of face masks

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    Swimming pools will reopen in NI on Friday (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

    Swimming pools will reopen in NI on Friday (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)


    Swimming pools will reopen in NI on Friday (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

    Swimming pools, spas, bowling alleys and community centres in Northern Ireland are among the venues that will be allowed reopen from Friday in further moves agreed by ministers to ease lockdown.

    It comes as the Stormont Executive agreed it will give the Health Minister Robin Swann legal powers to make wearing face masks mandatory from August 20 if the level of compliance remains low after a publicity campaign.

    The number of people permitted to gather in a private home will also rise to 10, with the group allowed to consist of four different households. Overnight stays in other households will also be permitted.

    Spectators will also be allowed to attend outdoor sporting venues "where the operator can control access and ensure adherence to social distancing".

    The Stormont Executive also announced on Thursday that saunas and steam rooms will be among the spa facilities permitted to reopen - while funfairs, whether outdoor or indoor, can also resume.

    An indicative date of August 10 for the reopening of indoor pubs and bars that only sell alcohol has also been agreed.

    It comes as eight new cases of Covid-19 have been recorded in Northern Ireland, the Department of Health (DoH) has confirmed.

    There were no further deaths recorded in the past 24 hours and the death toll from the virus remains at 556.

    The total number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Northern Ireland since the start of the pandemic now stands at 5,876.

    The new cases were recorded after 1,851 tests were carried out on 1,382 people.

    Six patients with coronavirus are in hospital, with two of these patients in intensive care.

    In care homes there are currently six active outbreaks of the virus.

    Here's how Thursday unfolded:

    Belfast Telegraph