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Coronavirus Northern Ireland updates: Executive agrees further easing of lockdown as two further deaths announced

  • NI death toll rises to 518 with two further deaths
  • Scroll down to follow today's live blog

The Executive has agreed further easing of the coronavirus lockdown measures.

Measures will come into place from June 8 - depending on the rate of infection the week before - which will see marriage ceremonies of small groups of up to 10 people, outdoor retailers allowed to open and hotels to resume taking bookings although they have not been given a date for reopening for guests.

Car showrooms, furniture shops, agricultural machinery, phone/ IT shops and dog grooming parlours were among those given the green light.

A decision on allowing people to meet up indoors was again deferred given the risk of infection was too great.

First Minister Arlene Foster said they were providing notice of the easing of restrictions to allow preparations to be made.

She said it was essential social distancing was followed and warned against disregarding the restrictions that remain in place in order to prevent the disease spreading further.

Michelle O'Neill said the R value was only just on the right side of one and the new easing of restrictions would only be enacted if it remains below one. The Executive will make a final decision on June 4.

"This moves us forward and I hope it eases some of the burden," deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill said.

She stressed the public held the power to keep the rate of infection down which would further help lift more restrictions if it went down. She said they recognised the personal sacrifices many were making.

"The advice from the scientists remains it is still not safe for us to introduce rapid or comprehensive relaxations to the measures that remain in place," she added.

"The actions of every individual are crucial."

The Prime Minister spoke with Mrs Foster and deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill on the phone on Tuesday afternoon as part of his engagement with the devolved regions.

There were two further deaths reported in NI on Thursday, which both occurred in the previous 24 hours and brings the toll to 518.

A further 16 people tested positive for the virus, bringing the total number of infections to 4,663.

Six patients who have tested positive for the virus are in an intensive care bed.

There are currently 69 confirmed Covid-19 outbreaks at care homes, with 34 suspected outbreaks and 52 closed cases.

Here's how Thursday unfolded:

Belfast Telegraph