Derry 'wet pubs' to remain closed but schools can reopen as R number rises above 1

The postponement until September of the re-opening of 'wet pubs' with the R number in the north now highly likely to be over 1 has been met with frustration by publicans.
'Wet pubs' will remain shut until September.'Wet pubs' will remain shut until September.
'Wet pubs' will remain shut until September.

However, there was relief for parents when it was confirmed schools will be allowed to fully reopen when the new year commences.

After an Executive meeting on Thursday the First Minister Arlene Foster confirmed that 'wet pubs' that were scheduled to reopen on Monday will now stay closed until September 1 at least.

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Schools are to reopen full time to all pupils from the start of the new term while face coverings will be compulsory indoors from Monday.

Schools are to reopen fully.Schools are to reopen fully.
Schools are to reopen fully.

The announcement comes with the R number - the measure of how many new people are being infected by an existing case of coronavirus - believed to be above 1, making the spread of the virus much more likely.

The Department of Health COVID-19 dashboard today reported a daily increase of 43 positive cases across the north.

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Health Minister Robin Swann warned this was a “wake-up call for the complacent”.

Face coverings: Compulsory from Monday.Face coverings: Compulsory from Monday.
Face coverings: Compulsory from Monday.

“This figure underlines the fact that the threat from the virus remains very real.

“If anyone still thinks COVID-19 is going to fade away, let them think again.

“We must all do everything we can to stop the spread of this virus," he said.

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Meanwhile the current DoH estimate is that the R number is 0.8 to 1.8 making it highly likely to be over 1 at present.

Chief Scientific Adviser Professor Ian Young said: “The most recent data for Northern Ireland underlines the need for continued vigilance."

But the postponement of the reopening of pubs that don't sell food will be 'catastrophic blow' for many publicans, Hospitality Ulster said.

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Colin Neill, Chief Executive, Hospitality Ulster said: “It is devastating news that the reopening of traditional non-food pubs has been pushed back, despite the rest of the hospitality sector reopening safely, albeit at reduced capacity.”

“The safety measures agreed by government and implemented by our members will help to reduce the spread of the virus, not the pie and chips you are currently required to have with your pint. Non-food pubs can operate under the same safety measures as food-let premises.”

“If the Executive are concerned about compliance, they should, as we have repeatedly suggested, take the powers to close anyone that blatantly ignores the guidance - not keep everyone closed, just in case. Some people speed, but we don’t stop everyone else from driving.”

“It is in our very best interest that we do everything in our power to help curtail the spread of coronavirus. Public health comes first, and we have extensive guidance in place and being implemented, creating the safest possible environments and we have offered to do more.”