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Coronavirus updates: Belfast City Hall turns blue in support of hero NHS workers

  • Three more people die in NI, bringing total number of deaths to 10 as number of cases up 32 to 241
  • Non-essential firms could lose out on government contracts if they don't shut
  • Swann warns health service could be unrecognisable in week, as hospital visits stop
  • Daisy Hill and Downe Hospitals A&Es to temporarily close in bid to streamline services
  • Chancellor announces self-employed support scheme
  • Public transport is further reduced

Belfast City Hall has been illuminated blue in support of NHS staff as they battle against the coronavirus pandemic.

The Albert Clock and the MAC were also lit up blue on Thursday evening during this critical time for our health service.

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Belfast City Hall is illuminated in blue in support of NHS staff during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Albert Clock and the MAC were also lit up blue on Thursday evening in support of NHS staff at this critical time.
Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

Belfast City Hall is illuminated in blue in support of NHS staff during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Albert Clock and the MAC were also lit up blue on Thursday evening in support of NHS staff at this critical time. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press E

Belfast City Hall is illuminated in blue in support of NHS staff during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Albert Clock and the MAC were also lit up blue on Thursday evening in support of NHS staff at this critical time. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

People across Northern Ireland took part in the "Clap for our Carers" initiative which saw the nation give a round of applause from our doorsteps, windows, gardens and balconies at 8pm.

It comes as deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill vowed swift action on those "exploiting" their workforce and suggested those non-essential firms which continue to work through the coronavirus outbreak could lose out on government contracts in the future.

The Executive and police are considering what level of fines could be dished out to employers forcing workers to continue to clock in when they should be closed.

Speaking during the Executive's daily briefing Ms O'Neill said that any non-essential business that stays open against advice will be closed and that businesses who exploited workers would be punished with fines.

Ms O'Neill said the Executive was being notified of businesses acting improperly.

"Today we are still hearing reports about workers being exploited during this public health emergency. They're being given no option by their employers other than to go to work, whenever it's not safe for them to do so," she said.

"That has to stop. It must stop immediately. And shame on any employer that is exploiting their workforce at this moment in time."

Ms O'Neill said that when the coronavirus pandemic ended people would be asking if they had done the right thing, and encouraged businesses to think about this when making decisions.

Citing the case of manufacturer Ulster Carpets she said that the business was "absolutely not essential and should be shut down".

Ulster Carpets said it was following government guidelines fully and had enacted working from home for all employees who could and introduced measures to support two metre distancing in its facilities.

It said it was encouraging and enabling frequent hand washing, and has ensured enhanced cleaning is taking place on a frequent basis.

The press conference came after it was announced that three more people have died as a result of Covid-19 in Northern Ireland.

A total of 10 people have now died from the virus, with 32 new positive cases confirmed on Thursday bringing the overall number of cases to 241.

Hospital visits have been banned and clinicians in Northern Ireland told to categorise patients who do not have coronavirus into priority groups in order to determine the level of care they need, as part of a reconfiguration of the health service.

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Follow today's key developments in our live blog

Belfast Telegraph


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