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Coronavirus: Police thank Northern Ireland public for obeying stay at home instructions

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PSNI officers patrol a deserted Downhill beach yesterday

PSNI officers patrol a deserted Downhill beach yesterday

PSNI officers patrol a deserted Downhill beach yesterday

Police have thanked people across Northern Ireland for obeying the lockdown measures during the quietest Easter weekend in living memory.

The PSNI maintained a visible presence in many tourist areas, ensuring people stuck to the key rules to slow the spread of coronavirus.

Yesterday it was announced that another 11 people who tested positive for Covid-19 had died here, bringing the total to 118.

Ahead of what is expected to be the virus's peak week, people had been urged to remain at home.

Police had warned that they would be stepping up patrols and checkpoints at beauty spots and on roads going to resorts and asking motorists to explain the reason for their journey.

Pictures shared by officers on social media showed empty carriageways on major routes, with the majority of drivers respecting pleas from politicians, police, health workers and local authorities to remain in their homes.

The PSNI's Air Support posted aerial shots of the north coast taken on Saturday with the message: "Mixed emotions to see empty beaches at this time of year but glad to see the advice is being listened to. Thank you!"

On one of the most important days in the Christian calendar, church doors remained closed and pews empty.

Clergy instead turned to cutting-edge technology as the coronavirus outbreak forced Christians to celebrate Easter Sunday at home by participating in online services.

Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, Eamon Martin, who celebrated Easter Sunday mass in Newry Cathedral, said that despite the many negatives of the coronavirus crisis, it has "brought out the best in people".

The head of the Catholic Church in Ireland used his Easter message to reflect on the similarities between the story of the resurrection and the present day.

He said people are finding more time now for family, reflection and prayer amid the pandemic, adding that he is hopeful we will come out of this "better people".

Meanwhile, Bishop of Derry Rev Donal McKeown carried out an Easter blessing of graves at the City Cemetery at sunrise.

Bishop McKeown sprinkled graves using Easter water that was blessed in St Eugene's Cathedral during the Easter Vigil mass on Saturday night.

The visit was arranged in co-operation with Derry City and Strabane District Council.

Bishop McKeown said he hoped the Easter blessing would bring some comfort to grieving families across the Derry Diocese who are unable to visit the graves of their loved ones.

He said he was very aware the Government legislation that forced all cemeteries and burial grounds to close for visitors was difficult for many people. But he urged people to be mindful of their own health and welfare and to take heed of the Government advice to stay at home.

Meanwhile, the Church of Ireland Bishop of Clogher and Archbishop-Designate of Armagh, Right Reverend John McDowell, led a video broadcast on Easter Sunday from Kiltermon Church outside Fivemiletown.

Bishop McDowell said he had chosen the rural Co Tyrone location as it was close to his home and because the church had its own "resurrection story", having previously been on the verge of closure.

Presbyterian Moderator Dr William Henry recorded a service in his own church, Maze Presbyterian in Lisburn.

He said that with many people's thoughts and news feeds leading to the coronavirus pandemic, "we could almost forget that it is Easter in these lockdown days".

A similar service was also streamed by Rev Stephen Skuce on behalf of the Methodist Church from his home in Strabane.

Belfast Telegraph