| 7.2°C Belfast

Coronavirus: UK ‘lockdown’ will last longer than three weeks, says Foster

Close

The Westlink in west Belfast at 8.45am as Belfast goes into its first day of lockdown on March 24th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

The Westlink in west Belfast at 8.45am as Belfast goes into its first day of lockdown on March 24th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Arlene Foster has said sweeping new Covid-19 restrictions will last more than three weeks (Liam McBurney/PA)

Arlene Foster has said sweeping new Covid-19 restrictions will last more than three weeks (Liam McBurney/PA)

The Westlink in west Belfast at 8.45am as Belfast goes into its first day of lockdown on March 24th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Northern Ireland’s First Minister Arlene Foster’s has said she believes the UK lockdown will go on past its initial three week period.

The UK enter the first full day of new restrictions restricting public life and movement on Tuesday.

People must remain at home except for shopping for basic necessities, exercise, any medical need and travelling to and from essential work, Boris Johnson said, with police enforcing the move.

Shops selling non-essential items were told to shut, and gatherings in public of more than two people who do not live together are banned.

He said the measures would be reviewed in three weeks time.

First Minister Foster said the restrictions should be followed in order to save lives and if people stayed at home it would “break the chain” of people passing on the virus.

“If I was a betting person, I would say it would continue long after three weeks. It is right we review what are quite draconian measures. But I would imagine it will last longer than three weeks,” she said.

Government has set out the shops which can open, such as supermarkets and other food retailers, pharmacies, hardware stores, corner shops, petrol stations, shops in hospital, post offices, banks, newsagents, laundrettes and pet shops.

Mrs Foster said, given the unique circumstances of Northern Ireland credit unions and post offices should also be added to the list.

The Prime Minister said essential work which could not be done at home. Arlene Foster said construction work could continue if they could practice social distancing on sites. She urged the public to read the government guidance.

She also said the Executive had pressed the Chancellor to introduce measures to protect the self-employed and was hopeful of an announcement later on Tuesday.

On Monday a third person in Northern Ireland died after contracting the disease with 148 of those tested having tested positive.

On Tuesday morning Brenda Doherty, said her mother Ruth Burke was the fourth victim.

Health Minister Robin Swann has already warned that 15,000 people could die in the region if steps are not taken to limit the spread of Covid-19.

Emergency powers passing through Westminster on Monday are expected to be formally introduced in Northern Ireland on Tuesday after MLAs vote on a legislative consent motion tabled by Mr Swann.

Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill joined the First Minister in urging people to follow official advice.

She told UTV’s View From Stormont: “It is going to be very dark days ahead and what we all need to do is mind ourselves, mind others, be thoughtful, be creative, try to reach out to people as best that we can.

“We are all in this together and we all need to work our way through it together.”

Belfast Telegraph