| 12.3°C Belfast

Coronavirus Northern Ireland: Two further Covid deaths and 40 new cases as Economy Minister announces business support schemes

  • Department of Health records more Covid-19 related deaths in the first week of September than during the entire month of August amid Craigavon hospital outbreaks
  • Craigavon courtroom closes after Covid-19 case as Southern Trust boss promises to get to the bottom of clusters
  • 624 positive cases in NI in the past seven days
  • NI 'can't afford another lockdown', says Economy Minister Dodds
  • Scroll down to follow our live updates

Two further Covid-19 related deaths have been recorded by the Department of Health in Northern Ireland.

Both men, one aged between 60 and 79 and the other aged over 80, passed away at Craigavon Area Hospital, where Covid-19 outbreaks are being investigated, on Monday. The official death toll is now at 567.

Some 40 new cases of the virus have also been confirmed in the last 24 hours, bringing the total to 7,908.

There are 12 Covid inpatients in hospitals across Northern Ireland, including two in intensive care.

A total of 19 care homes are also dealing with outbreaks of the virus.

Meanwhile, Economy Minister Diane Dodds has hailed the "remarkable resilience" of the business community in Northern Ireland as she announced two new support schemes to help the industry recover from the impact of Covid-19.

Mrs Dodds said her department has spent £408m on its Covid response, but did not give an update on when wet pubs will re-open in Northern Ireland.

Close

Press Eye - Belfast - 8th September 2020 - 

Economy Minister Diane Dodds pictured at a Department for the Economy press conference in Parliament Buildings, Stormont this afternoon. 

Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

Press Eye - Belfast - 8th September 2020 - Economy Minister Diane Dodds pictured at a Department for the Economy press conference in Parliament Buildings, Stormont this afternoon. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

Press Eye - Belfast - 8th September 2020 - Economy Minister Diane Dodds pictured at a Department for the Economy press conference in Parliament Buildings, Stormont this afternoon. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

"I've always said it should never be a binary choice between health and the economy - the two are inextricably linked," said Mrs Dodds at a Stormont press conference

It comes as Mrs Dodds announced that a new £1m Digital Selling Capability Grant has been established to help retailers and wholesalers generate business online.

A £5m Equity Investment Fund has also been set up, which will be targeted at early stage and seed stage SMEs.

Both will open for applications on Wednesday.

The schemes will be operated by Invest Northern Ireland and "are the first of a number of new initiatives being developed by the agency to help companies respond to a new business environment in the wake of Covid-19".

“The Covid-19 Digital Selling Capability Grant is specifically aimed at helping retail and wholesale businesses better access consumer demand and grow online sales," Mrs Dodds said.

"For the retailer, taking business online is one of the ways it can adapt to any current limitations and continue to sell to their customers. Going online will also open up opportunities to reach new markets and new consumer demand.

“The Covid-19 Equity Investment Fund will provide access to finance for high growth potential SMEs. The funding landscape has changed since Covid-19 and brought with it many challenges for early stage businesses.

"This equity fund will support their growth and will stimulate other investors to ensure we continue to create new businesses and drive our economy forward.”

The Covid-19 Digital Selling Capability Grant will provide a maximum grant of £20,000 to eligible small and medium-sized retailers to support 50% of eligible costs. Projects must have a minimum eligible expenditure of £10,000.

The Covid-19 Equity Investment Fund will provide matching equity investment or convertible loan notes of up to a maximum of £700,000 for technology and innovative businesses.

Here's how Tuesday unfolded:

Belfast Telegraph