Live446 PSNI officers/members of staff off because of Covid-19 - New direct flights to Qatar, New York and Boston could be part of NI’s Covid-19 economic recovery reveals Diane Dodds - Voucher scheme confirmed as every household in NI to receive pre-paid credit card and it’s even better than originally thought

At present, there 446 PSNI officers/PSNI employees off work because of Covid-19, latest data from the PSNI has revealed.

Monday, 23rd November 2020, 5:32 pm

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There are currently 446 PSNI officers/members of staff off because of Covid-19.

LIVE UPDATES: Coronavirus NI - 446 PSNI officers/members of staff off because of Covid-19

Last updated: Monday, 23 November, 2020, 16:58

  • 446 PSNI officers/members of staff off because of Covid-19
  • Every household in NI to receive a £200 pre-paid credit card
  • LAMP technology being tested in NI health and social care trust
  • Executive meeting today to discuss financial support package for businesses 

There are 446 PSNI officers/members of staff off because of Covid-19

At present, there 446 PSNI officers/PSNI employees off work because of Covid-19, latest data from the PSNI has revealed.

Off the 446 individuals 378 are self-isolating.  

The PSNI has also issued the following number of fixed penalty notices since the beginning of the pandemic:

- 2,101 x penalty notices COV-1 (these specific penalty notices stopped being issued 17:30 on November 12, 2020 because penalty levels have increased and additional offences have been introduced)

- 653 x Prohibition Notices COV-2 issued to licensed premises or for restriction of gatherings in a private dwelling (112 Commercial / 541 Private)

- 49 x Failure to Isolate COV-3 (£1,000 fine)

- 441 x Penalty Notices (COV-4 now replaces COV-1 with fines starting at £200)

- 14 x COV5 Penalty Notice issued to a business and/or premises for breach of the regulations (starting at £1,000 to a max of £10,000)

1,269 x CRNs - Community Resolution Notices

New flights to Doha in Qatar, New York and Boston could form part of Northern Ireland’s economic recovery plan

Belfast International Airport.

Economy Minister, Diane Dodds, has told MLAs in the Assembly that three proposed new routes from Belfast International Airport to Doha in Qatar, New York and Boston.

"I have been in discussion with Belfast International Airport about new routes to New York, Boston and Doha.

“This proposal and aviation is a reserved matter for the Department of Transport however I have instructed my officials to investigate the idea of having support for routes - particularly to North America as part of our Covid recovery but also it’s important for Northern Ireland’s centenary year - it would allow us to expand our markets, our horizons and our cultural exchanges with the rest of the world," said Minister Dodds.

CONFIRMED - Executive agrees to provide every household in Northern Ireland with pre-paid credit card to be spent on high street

Breaking News Alert.

The Northern Ireland Executive has agreed to move forward with providing every household in Northern Ireland with a £200 pre-paid credit card that can be used on high streets.

Finance Minister, Conor Murphy, confirmed the Executive had agreed to move forward with the scheme when he made a statement in the Assembly in Stormont on Monday afternoon.

The scheme is expected to cost £95m and will be rolled out in the New Year.

Finance Minister Murphy told MLAs that the voucher scheme would mean every household in Northern Ireland would receive approximately £200 credit on the pre-paid card.

Officers to receive spit and bite guards during pandemic

PSNI logo.

All operational police officers in Northern Ireland are to be issued with spit and bite guards for the duration of the pandemic, the PSNI said - writes Michael McHugh, PA.

They have been used 70 times since March. Most targeted have been part of local or neighbourhood policing teams.

The Policing Board had recommended their use cease at the end of this year.

Assistant Chief Constable Jonathan Roberts said: “After careful consideration, we have decided to issue all operational police officers with spit and bite guards as a temporary measure for the duration of the pandemic.”

The majority being issued with the guards will comprise local policing teams, neighbourhood policing teams, Tactical Support Group Road Policing Unit, District Support Team and Specialist Operations Branch.

Anyone receiving them must complete mandatory online training.

Officers must activate body-worn video and every use must be notified to the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland (PONI).

In March the chief constable decided to issue the guards to response teams, custody staff, armed officers and cell van crews.

Mr Roberts added: “This has provided a high degree of reassurance to officers and staff.”

The officers and staff currently issued with them comprise 11% of the total reported incidents within that period.

Mr Roberts said: “An enhanced roll-out which will commence on December 18 fulfils the chief constable’s obligations under health and safety legislation which requires him to provide safe systems of work for all employees.

“We recognise this is a sensitive issue and I want to reassure the public that human rights considerations of deploying a spit and bite guard are at the forefront of this decision.

“We also want to ensure that ‘the rights of the child’ under the legal framework of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) are referred to in our current policy.

“As such we have also amended our policy on the use of spit and bite guards to strengthen the message about the use of the guard on children over 10 and on vulnerable people.”

Most police services in England, Scotland and Wales have been using the guards for some years.

The Policing Board had recommended that their operational use should be ceased from December 31.

A Board spokesman said: “The published report sets out in some detail the rationale and basis for the recommendation made, the importance of meeting the duty of care responsibilities to officers and staff in respect of providing a safe working environment, the protection this equipment actually delivers along with the proportionality of its use on members of the public.

“Board members will wish to discuss this decision with the chief constable at the Board meeting in December.”

Police Federation for Northern Ireland chairman Mark Lindsay said they will give officers increased protection during the pandemic.

“The chief constable is to be congratulated for making this decision. Within the PSNI, it will be universally welcomed.

“The PFNI has consistently made the case for the wholesale introduction of spit and bite guards to all frontline officers who too often have to deal with offenders who spit at or bite them.

“I recognise this decision may be criticised by some, but I would respond by saying that our men and women have human rights too, and deserve to be protected when threatened and assaulted.”

Every household in NI could be about to receive a £100 pre-paid credit card

First Minister, Arlene Foster.

Every household in Northern Ireland could be given a £100 pre-paid credit card that could be used for purchases in local shops - the proposal is desgined to support local businesses affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

It is believed the Northern Ireland Executive is considering the proposal at a meeting in Stormont today.

The scheme was first mentioned by First Minister Arlene Foster in the Assembly two weeks ago.

Earlier this month, First Minister Foster, hinted that a scheme introduced on the island of Jersey to help support the local economy in the wake of Covid-19 could be introduced in Northern Ireland.

"I acknowledge the population of Jersey is smaller than ours in Northern Ireland but one of the initiatives that impressed me comprised of the local government issuing every adult with a pre-paid credit card to the value of £100.

"The credit can only be spent in local businesses.

“I know our Economy Minister Diane Dodds is looking at something similar, possibly around a voucher scheme," said First Minister Foster.

Liverpool mass testing scheme could be used in targeted fashion in NI

Mass testing like the scheme that is being trialled in Liverpool could be used in parts of Northern Ireland, CMO Dr. Michael McBride has said.

Northern Ireland’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Michael McBride, has said a mass Covid-19 testing scheme like the one in operation in Liverpool could be used in Northern Ireland in the not-too distant future.

Dr. McBride stopped short of saying such a scheme could be rolled country-wide but hinted that it could be used in parts of Northern Ireland where the infection rate is much higher than the rest of the country.

Dr. McBride told ‘The Stephen Nolan Show’ that mass testing could also be used to target specific groups of people in Northern Ireland like front line health and social care workers.

Loop-mediated Isothermal Amplification (LAMP) technology being trialled in NI

Rapid LAMP testing is currently being used at Dublin Airport.

Rapid loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) testing technology is currently being trialled in one of Northern Ireland health and social care trusts.

LAMP testing is a single tube technique for the amplification of DNA. 

It provides a low cost alternative to polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technology to detect certain diseases.

LAMP testing is currently being used at Dublin Airport in the Republic of Ireland to test people with suspected Covid-19.

Prof. Ian Young says what is needed to help reduce risk of pre-Christmas lockdown

Professor Ian Young.

Chief Scientific Adviser (CSA) Professor Ian Young has said if Northern Ireland can get the R-number (infection rate) down to 0.7 and maintain it at that level for approximately two weeks it would mean a further pre-Christmas lockdown would be “unlikely”.

Restrictions, agreed by the Executive last week, will become active on Friday November 27 and will remain in place until December 11.

Professor Ian Young told BBC Radio Ulster’s ‘The Stephen Nolan Show’ on Monday morning that if the R-number was brought down to 0.7 in the coming days and if it remained at that level for the duration of the new restrictions it would mean a further lockdown before Christmas would be much less likely.

“It all rests on how we all behave in the next  few weeks - if we follow the guidelines and adhere to washing our hands, wearing a mask and social distancing and get the R-number down to 0.7 and keep it there for two weeks it would be unlikely we would need more restrictions before Christmas - but like I said, this is not guaranteed because it all depends on how we all behave.”

Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Michael McBride, said getting the R-number down and keeping it there was “the prize” everyone should have their sights fixed upon.

“That is the prize - but we must all work together to do this,” said Dr. McBride.

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