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Northern Ireland coronavirus death toll rises to 514

Meanwhile, a historic Belfast city centre church reopened for private prayer.

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Belfast’s oldest Catholic Church, St Mary’s in Chapel Lane has reopened (PA)

Belfast’s oldest Catholic Church, St Mary’s in Chapel Lane has reopened (PA)

Belfast’s oldest Catholic Church, St Mary’s in Chapel Lane has reopened (PA)

The number of people who have died after testing positive for coronavirus in Northern Ireland has risen to 514 after eight more deaths were reported by the Department of Health.

The department also reported a further 39 cases of confirmed Covid-19, bringing the total number of positive cases in Northern Ireland to 4,609.

The number of people tested for the virus over the last 24 hours was 1,084.

The figures were released as police urged members of the public to avoid visiting the beach or popular tourist spots on the bank holiday.

On Monday, dozens of groups of people were spotted at Helen’s Bay close to Bangor.

Up to 100 day-trippers, who were following social distancing guidelines, flocked to the popular beach for the bank holiday.

On Sunday, PSNI issued a warning after reports that large crowds had visited a number of coastal towns, including Portrush and Portstewart.

The PSNI had to close a number of roads leading into the coastal areas as hundreds of people went to visit the area.

However, on Monday images posted on social media appeared to show that the public paid heed to the police appeal with only a few people spotted on the beach.

We would encourage people not to travel to popular beaches or beauty spots for your daily exercise if it is not necessary, as social distancing may not be achievable where large crowds are gatheredPSNI

The Sunday crowds prompted the PSNI to post a plea to the public on social media.

The force said: “Each of us can play our part helping to stop the spread of Covid-19. Please ensure you continue to adhere to Northern Ireland Executive regulations.

“Police have been receiving reports of large numbers of people visiting local beauty spots, beaches and parks across Northern Ireland today and we would like to remind everyone of the advice from our public health partners and Northern Ireland Executive about social distancing and movement.

“We would encourage people not to travel to popular beaches or beauty spots for your daily exercise if it is not necessary, as social distancing may not be achievable where large crowds are gathered.

“Please help us by staying at home as much as possible so that we can be sure our roads, streets, villages, towns and cities are safe for everyone and so that we can all maintain a safe social distance.

“Each of us can play our part to help prevent the spread of Covid-19, protect the NHS and save lives and it is important we continue to adhere to Northern Ireland Executive regulations.”

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Belfast’s oldest Catholic Church, St Mary’s in Chapel Lane, has reopened (Liam McBurney/PA)

Belfast’s oldest Catholic Church, St Mary’s in Chapel Lane, has reopened (Liam McBurney/PA)

PA

Belfast’s oldest Catholic Church, St Mary’s in Chapel Lane, has reopened (Liam McBurney/PA)

Meanwhile, a historic Belfast city centre church reopened for private prayer.

Belfast’s oldest Catholic Church, St Mary’s in Chapel Lane, reopened after the Northern Ireland Executive announced last week that places of worship could open for solitary prayer.

In preparation St Mary’s placed signs to create a one-way system, installed hand sanitiser gel at the entrance, and limited the amount of pews open for parishioners to maintain a two-metre distance.

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The Department of Health has said it continues to closely monitor Clifton Nursing Home in Belfast and is being regularly updated on proposals for a new provider to take over the running of the home.

On Friday, Health Minister Robin Swann announced that action was being taken to relocate residents from the  care home, following recent inspections.

In a statement it said: “Those discussions are not yet concluded. It is hoped the plans will result in residents having the choice of remaining in the home under the care of a new management team – should that be their preferred option.”

“This is a very distressing time for residents and their families. This is a matter of great regret.”

PA