NI Executive unable to say which restrictions might stay in place when ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown lifted next week

The Northern Ireland Executive is unable to say which restrictions will be in place when the ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown ends on Friday November 13.

Thursday, 5th November 2020, 6:09 pm

The Executive met in Stormont on Thursday to discuss its response to Covid-19.

It has been widely reported that the advice from health experts presented to the Executive recommends extending the current ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown for an additional two weeks to the end of the month.

First Minister Arlene Foster said the Executive would meet over the weekend to decide what must be done to reduce the risk of putting the health service under significant pressure.

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First Minister Arlene Foster and deputy First Minister, Michelle O'Neill picture with Rhonda Tait whose mother died after testing positive for Covid-19 in April.

“As First and deputy First minister we have to look right across the piece as to the impacts on society here in Northern Ireland,” said Arlene Foster.

“Of course we have to look at the health impacts, we also have to look at the economic impacts, the impacts on society, on the impacts on mental health, on the impacts on family life, so we’re considering all of that at the moment as an Executive.”

Asked why the Executive had not made a decision over restrictions on Thursday, Mrs Foster said: “The paper wasn’t one for decision today, it was only up for discussion today and, of course, the paper from the health department will only give the view from the health department.”

Mrs. Foster said the Executive also wants to announce any potential changes in the Stormont Assembly on Monday.

“We also believe that the best place and the right place to announce anything new is in the Assembly chamber, and so we hope to be able to do that early next week.

“The current restrictions come to an end next Friday so we do absolutely need to give people certainty around these issues.

“These discussions continue and we will have further discussions over the weekend.”

Deputy First Minister, Michelle O’Neill, said the Executive had to weigh up all variables before identifying what to do next.

“It is clearly a very complex situation that we’re dealing with and we can’t look at anything in isolation … which is why we spent a considerable period of time today talking our way through these things.

“We hope to be able to make an announcement at the start of the week,” she said.

The press conference started with a short video in which a lady called Rhonda Tait spoke about the death of her mother, Josephine Brown, to Covid-19 back in April.

Mrs. Foster and Ms. O’Neill met with Ms. Tait on Thursday.

Ms. Tait’s story will be used in a Covid-19 publicity campaign.