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Coronavirus Northern Ireland: ‘This is a wake-up call’ – Stormont leaders sound alarm bells as Covid-19 restrictions come into force across NI

  • NI-wide restrictions banning household visits have now come into force, while wet pubs are due to reopen on Wednesday
  • PM Boris Johnson calls for resolve and discipline in fight against Covid-19
  • 75 new cases reported in last 24 hours in NI where death toll remains at 577
  • Scroll down to see how Tuesday unfolded

First Minister Arlene Foster and deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill have urged the Northern Ireland public to follow the latest coronavirus rules after Prime Minister Boris Johnson called for resolve and discipline in the fight against Covid-19 in a televised address.

Earlier restrictions banning meetings in houses came into force across all of Northern Ireland, following a spike in cases.

Households are no longer able to mix indoors, with some exceptions, and no more than six people from two households can meet in a private garden.

The move was agreed by the Executive following a weekend that saw more than 400 new cases confirmed. In the last seven days, 963 people have tested positive for the virus.

“We need to act. But I want to reassure you, that despite all the headlines, this is not a second lockdown”, Mrs Foster said on Tuesday night. “This is a wake-up call. A reminder that we are not out of the woods.

“As an Executive, we have agreed that your school, your shop, your factory, your business, your college, your local hotel or restaurant will remain open because they have all taken steps to stop the spread of the virus.

“These actions are designed to prevent the need for a return to lockdown."

This is not a second lockdown. This is a wake-up call Arlene Foster

Mrs O’Neill said: “Tonight we are sounding the alarm bells loud and clear throughout our society – and asking you to go back to basics.

“Your health and the health of your loved ones is in your hands.”

It comes after Mr Johnson said the UK faced an "unquestionably difficult" winter during his televised address. Earlier the Prime Minister set out a package of measures for England, with office staff once again working from home, the wider use of face masks and a 10pm curfew on pubs and restaurants.

He said that the new curbs could continue well beyond Christmas and new year unless there was progress in controlling the spread of the virus - and indicated tougher restrictions could be imposed if they failed.

If people do not follow the new rules, "we must reserve the right to go further", he said.

The Stormont Executive is due to meet again on Thursday to review the measures that have been introduced in England. Opening hours for the hospitality sector will be on the agenda.

Earlier Mrs Foster, Mrs O'Neill and Mr Johnson held discussions at a Cobra meeting with their Scottish and Welsh counterparts.

It comes after the Department of Health confirmed that a further 75 people in Northern Ireland have tested positive for coronavirus in the last 24 hours.

This brings the total number of cases diagnosed since the start of the outbreak to 9,541.

No further deaths were reported in the 24 hours up to 10am on Tuesday. The death toll remains at 577.

There are 36 Covid patients in hospitals across Northern Ireland, with five in intensive care. Some 28 care homes are dealing with outbreaks of the virus.

Here's how Tuesday unfolded:

Belfast Telegraph