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Coronavirus updates: Nine further deaths in Northern Ireland as reopening cemeteries divides Stormont parties

  • Nine further deaths are recorded in Northern Ireland hospitals
  • UK-wide hospital deaths rise by 823 to 17,337
  • Deaths in Republic rise to 730 - up 44
  • Stormont parties are divided over the reopening of cemeteries in Northern Ireland
  • Forest parks reopen to people who live nearby
  • Scroll down for coverage as it happened

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A Covid-19 sign on the entrance gates of Belmont cemetery in Antrim

A Covid-19 sign on the entrance gates of Belmont cemetery in Antrim

PA

A Covid-19 sign on the entrance gates of Belmont cemetery in Antrim

There have been nine further deaths due to coronavirus in Northern Ireland hospitals, the Department of Health has announced.

It brings the death toll here to 216.

It comes as First Minister Arlene Foster told the public "this is not the time to take the foot off the pedal" as she paid tribute to the Northern Ireland companies who are manufacturing PPE during the crisis.

Speaking from Stormont, Mrs Foster said the impact of coronavirus could be felt in the public and private sector for years to come.

Mrs Foster and deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill also addressed the division between Northern Ireland's political parties on whether to reopen cemeteries amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Mrs Foster said the Executive will have to come to a collective decision on the issue but her view is that cemeteries should be reopened with social distancing in place.

But Mrs O'Neill said, while she understands the difficulty the issue is causing, "we are still in a pandemic".

"We're not out the other side so we have to focus on the public health message which is stay at home and only go out if you need to," she said.

"This is for the public interest. Ultimately this is still about saving lives," she aded.

The UUP supports reopening on a "controlled basis", while the Alliance Party has said they remain opposed. The SDLP has requested advice from the chief medical officer and chief scientific officer on the issue.

Council-run graveyards were closed in Northern Ireland last month as part of the lockdown.

Follow all Tuesday's main developments in our live blog

Belfast Telegraph