Self-employed to receive £3,500 under £10m Department of Economy scheme - 16,000 people in residential/care homes and 22,000 carers to receive vaccine first confirms Arlene Foster

Those eligible for support under a special £10m self-employed scheme will receive £3,500 from the Department of the Economy, First Minister Arlene Foster has confirmed.

Wednesday, 2nd December 2020, 10:35 am
Updated Wednesday, 2nd December 2020, 5:46 pm

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First Minister, Arlene Foster.

Coronavirus NI - Estimated 12,000 people in NI to start receiving Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine next week says Health Minister Robin Swann

Last updated: Wednesday, 02 December, 2020, 17:48


  • Four additional Covid-19 related deaths recorded in NI in last 24 hours
  • 12,000 people in NI could start receiving the vaccine next week
  • UK becomes first country in world to approve use of vaccine
  • Next summer is aim for when all of NI population will receive vaccine

People who qualify for self-employed scheme will receive £3,500 confirms First Minister Arlene Foster

First Minister, Arlene Foster.

First Minister, Arlene Foster, has revealed self-employed people who meet a specific criteria will receive £3,500 under a Department of the Economy scheme worth £10m.

Mrs. Foster made the announcement at a media briefing during which she appeared at a podium with her Northern Ireland Executive colleagues, deputy First Minister, Michelle O’Neill and Health Minister, Robin Swann.

The First Minister confirmed those who qualfiy for the scheme will receive £3,500 which would be topped up towards the end of the initiative.

The details of the scheme will be provided by Economy Minister, Diane Dodds.

Mrs. Foster also revealed that the first people to receive the Covid-19 vaccine will be 18,000 residential/care home residents; 32,000 care home staff; 71,000 health service staff and 80,000 people aged 80 and over.

Deputy First Minister, Michelle O’Neill, also welcomed the announcement that the UK had approved the use of the Pfizer vaccine.

“It is the beginning of the end but we still have a way to go.

She added: “This has been a very long and winding tunnel.”

She said today offered a glimpse of a brighter future.

Health Minister, Robin Swann.

Stormont Health Minister Robin Swann said: “Today is a good day, make no mistake about it, but remember we have many more steps along this long and difficult path to go.”

He added: “We are facing a long and deep winter and the health service will continue to face extreme pressure.”

He said letting complacency creep in now would be “unforgiveable”.

He said the vaccination programme would be a “mammoth and long-term” operation and urged patience.

“Things will get better slowly but surely.”

He added that an uptake of around 70% was necessary.

“What we see in Northern Ireland with regards to flu vaccine programmes is that we already have a population who are engaged…they have come forward in greater numbers.”

Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said ministers would this week discuss plans for after Northern Ireland’s circuit breaker ends later this month.

She added: “We want to be able to communicate to people well in advance, we intend to be able to get an executive decision tomorrow and then move to place the regulations directly afterwards.”

Stormont First Minister Arlene Foster said vaccination progress was a major step forward.

“It is the breakthrough that we have all been hoping for and praying for, this is our pathway back to normality. Back to a world where we can hug our wider family and friends, able to mark major life events together, both happy and sad, and where we can freely enjoy travel and leisure activities and work and socialise with colleagues.”

Stormont Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said: “A vaccination to protect you and your family from Covid-19 will be available. We should all take some comfort from that.

“It will take some months to roll out the vaccine to everyone and I want to assure you that we will be doing all that we can to make sure that that happens as quickly and as smoothly as possible.”

Stormont Health Minister Robin Swann said vaccines are the most effective way to prevent infectious diseases.

“They save millions of lives worldwide every day. So today is a good day, make no mistake about it, but remember we have many more steps along this long and difficult path to go.”

Four additional Covid-19 related deaths recorded in NI in last 24 hours

Four more people have died with Covid-19 in Northern Ireland.

Another 416 people have tested positive, the Department of Health said.

Some 2,601 have received an affirmative result over the last seven days.

Vaccine Alert - ‘The safety of the public will always come first’

Dr June Raine, head of the regulator which approved the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine, said no corners had been cut in assessing its safety.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) chief told a Downing Street briefing: “The safety of the public will always come first.

“This recommendation has only been given by the MHRA following the most rigorous scientific assessment of every piece of data so that it meets the required strict standards of safety, of effectiveness and of quality.”

This is how the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine works

First vaccines could be given in Northern Ireland next week – Swann

Health Minister, Robin Swann.

The first Covid-19 vaccines could be administered in Northern Ireland next week, Stormont’s health minister has said - writes David Young, PA.

Robin Swann said the approval of UK regulators for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine could see the scheduled December 14 roll out date brought forward by a few days.

Mr Swann said the region would receive 25,000 jabs as part of the initial batch arriving in the UK.

Healthcare workers are likely to receive the first jabs in Northern Ireland.

“We would hope to have a supply of vaccine next week, which could actually see that date come forward by a few days,” said Mr Swann.

“We’ll be working through the exact logistics of the dispatch of the vaccine from Belgium across to the UK and how we get that distributed through your system.”

The minister urged caution and stressed that compliance with Covid-19 regulations is still vital.

“It’s the beginning of the end, it’s not the end,” he said.

“It will be weeks and it’ll be well into next year before we’re looking to that larger mass vaccination programme across the population of Northern Ireland.

“So, as I say, this is the beginning of them.

“We’re not there yet.

“So we do ask the people in Northern Ireland to continue to maintain and follow the regulations that are there.”

He added: “This is light at the end of the tunnel but that tunnel to me is still well into next year.”

Addressing safety concerns raised by some members of the public, Mr Swann insisted no corners had been cut by the vaccine regulators.

First Minister Arlene Foster said the vaccine approval was an early “Christmas present”.

“This does give us the road back to normality and I think everybody has been waiting for that,” she said.

“I’m incredibly proud today that the United Kingdom has been able to do this and that we will all benefit from this vaccine coming.”

Mrs Foster said the rollout of the vaccine would be a “huge challenge”.

She said the Stormont Executive also has to plan for economic recovery.

“So we need to find a way out of this that brings recovery back to the United Kingdom and to Northern Ireland, of course, in particular, and that’s what we’ll be working on in the weeks to come as well as working on, of course, all of the logistical challenges on the rollout of the vaccine and mass testing,” she told Radio Ulster.

First Minister Michelle O’Neill said the vaccine approval marked a “turning point”.

“I think this is the news that people have been waiting for now for the best of 10 months when we’ve all been challenged to the limits, so I think this is a very positive story,” she said.

“This is a turning point in our Covid battle, and I think people should feel that, and they’re right to feel it because it has been such a challenging time.”

Ms O’Neill acknowledged that the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine was the most “problematic” in terms of the logistical challenges over storage and batch sizes.

The Sinn Fein vice president said she would have no issue taking the vaccine herself, but added that it is for medical experts to convince those people who have “natural and understandable” concerns.

Ms O’Neill rejected any suggestion of a mandatory vaccination programme.

“I think it’s about freedom of choice,” she said.

“I think I would be more in the camp of encouraging people to take the vaccine, I think it’s important that people do.

“But I don’t believe that it should be mandatory, I don’t believe that in any sort of scenario.

“I think it’s for us to convince people of the merits and why it’s important, and I think it’s for the medical and scientific evidence to back that all up and then people to make their decisions.”

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