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Businesses shuttered again as Northern Ireland enters new lockdown

It comes as another 20 deaths linked to Covid-19 and an additional 998 positive cases were registered in 48 hours.

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A man walks through a deserted Belfast city centre as Northern Ireland entered a new extended lockdown (Peter Morrison/PA)

A man walks through a deserted Belfast city centre as Northern Ireland entered a new extended lockdown (Peter Morrison/PA)

A man walks through a deserted Belfast city centre as Northern Ireland entered a new extended lockdown (Peter Morrison/PA)

Businesses across Northern Ireland are shuttered once more as new lockdown measures came into effect.

From Boxing Day, stricter measures than ever before are in place as coronavirus cases remain high.

The Department of Health said 20 deaths linked to Covid-19 were recorded over the past 48 hours, as well as an additional 998 positive cases.

The new restrictions include a form of curfew in operation from 8pm, shops closed from that time and all indoor and outdoor gatherings prohibited until 6am.

In Belfast, streets were deserted, in stark contrast to the typical rush for the Boxing Day sales.

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Northern Ireland has entered a new extended lockdown (Peter Morrison/PA)

Northern Ireland has entered a new extended lockdown (Peter Morrison/PA)

PA

Northern Ireland has entered a new extended lockdown (Peter Morrison/PA)

Non-essential retail and close contact services such as hairdressers have closed and will remain so for the next six weeks.

Hospitality outlets are limited to takeaway services.

Organised sport has been banned, with elite athletes included in the prohibition for the first week.

Covid infection rates remain high, with a virulent strain first discovered in southern England and London recently detected in Northern Ireland.

Stormont’s chief scientific adviser has said Northern Ireland would have witnessed thousands of Covid-19 deaths if no action had been taken to suppress the spread.

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A farewell notice in a shop window in Belfast city centre as Northern Ireland entered a new extended lockdown (Peter Morrison/PA)

A farewell notice in a shop window in Belfast city centre as Northern Ireland entered a new extended lockdown (Peter Morrison/PA)

PA

A farewell notice in a shop window in Belfast city centre as Northern Ireland entered a new extended lockdown (Peter Morrison/PA)

Professor Ian Young said the already over-capacity health service would have been completely swamped in January.

He warned the number of Covid-19 inpatients would have soared to between 3,000 and 4,000 by the end of the month if no action had been taken.

Recently, queues of ambulances were witnessed at accident and emergency departments (EDs) across Northern Ireland as patients were treated in car parks due to a lack of capacity inside hospitals.

At one point, 17 ambulances containing patients were lined up outside the ED at Antrim Area Hospital.

PA


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