Third NI ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown on December 28 a possibility as Health Minister Robin Swann ‘will not hesitate’ to introduce restrictions

Northern Ireland could enter into what would be a third ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown the day after when the relaxing of Covid-19 restrictions ends on December 27.
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The second and most recent ‘circuit breaker’ ended at midnight last night.

Changes include the reopening of the hospitality sector but pubs that do not normally sell food must remain closed.

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Non-essential retail is also permitted to reopen but mitigation measures such as face coverings and social distancing must be adhered to.

Belfast city centre on Friday afternoon after some restriction measures were lifted.Belfast city centre on Friday afternoon after some restriction measures were lifted.
Belfast city centre on Friday afternoon after some restriction measures were lifted.

Households, however, are not permitted to mix indoors but there are some exemptions e.g. bubbling with another household, childcaer and providing care or assistance, including social services, to a vulnerable person.

We contacted the Department of Health (DoH) to specifically ask if Health Minister, Robin Swann was ruling out recommending to the Northern Ireland Executive to introduce restriction measures in the days between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

“Any relaxation of restrictions is likely to be associated with an increase in the R number as interactions between people increase,” a departmental spokesperson told us.

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“We all have a role to play in reducing transmission by reducing our contacts with other people as much as possible and adhering to other mitigations as we approach Christmas.

“Minister Swann has made it clear that he will not hesitate to recommend the introduction of restrictions should the need arise but stressed that it will be our actions that will dictate the timing and scale of any further restrictions that may be needed in coming weeks.”

The response from the DoH comes on the same day Health Minister Swann revealed he would have preferred to see stricter restrictions in place for the weeks and days leading up to December 23 when restrictions will be relaxed for four days until December 27.

“From a health point of view of course we would have liked to have seen I suppose stricter,” said Minister Swann on Friday.

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