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Coronavirus updates: 'We will shut you down,' ministers warn Northern Ireland firms not social distancing workers

  • Total of seven people have died after contracting virus, including a Belfast care home resident
  • Public Health Agency releases map showing locations of 209 known cases, including 37 new cases
  • NI has thousands of unconfirmed coronavirus cases, says chief medical officer
  • More support for self-employed is coming tomorrow from UK Government
  • Belfast City Council moves to a black bin only collection service with immediate effect

The First Minister and deputy First Minister have warned businesses in the construction and manufacturing sectors "we will shut you down" if they do not comply with social distancing guidance.

Speaking at a joint press conference at Stormont, Arlene Foster said she and Michelle O'Neill have been contacted directly by families who are worried for the health of their loved ones having to go to work.

"It is clear that some businesses and other sectors are operating without observing social distancing and best practice," said Mrs Foster.

She appealed directly to those businesses to observe new guidance around social distancing.

"You must facilitate social distancing in the workplace, you must provide your staff with the appropriate protective equipment.

"If you don't get your act together on social distancing, the Executive will have no option but to enforce legislation against you.

Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill said she continues to see men travelling to work in vans together, something she described as "unacceptable".


Magdalene Mitchell with her family.

Magdalene Mitchell with her family.

Magdalene Mitchell with her family.

"If you cannot make provision for safe working practices, you should not be operating. It's adding to the colossal burden on our health services," she said.

"If you don't take action yourself, we will move in and shut you down."

Meanwhile, Mrs Foster called for more former health workers to step forward to offer their services in the fight against the coronavirus.

"If you are a former health service worker who has left the health service for whatever reason, we need you back. Your neighbour will need you back," she said.

It comes as the Department of Health confirmed seven people have died as a result of the coronavirus outbreak in Northern Ireland.

In its regular daily update officials said there was 37 new cases bringing the total to 209 of those that have been tested as of Wednesday, March 25.

The family of a resident of a Belfast care was among the latest deaths, her family confirmed.

She was 80-year-old Magdalene Mitchell.

Radio Ulster's Nolan show reported that two residents in Bradley Manor, on Belfast’s Crumlin Road, were admitted to hospital after taking sick.

Frances Doherty told the programme her mother was one of the residents and she first heard she had a high temperature on Thursday. She said Magdalene had been suffering dementia.

She said her condition deteriorated on Friday and she was taken to hospital and placed in isolation.

Ms Doherty said she was informed of her mother's death just after 6am on Wednesday morning. She said she did not know if they would be able to have a funeral.

Here is how Wednesday unfolded:

Belfast Telegraph

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