Northern Ireland news

Key decisions on Covid measures needed as soon as possible, says Donaldson

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has called for decisions to be made over Covid restrictions. Picture by Peter Morrison/PA Wire
Jonathan McCambridge, PA

The Stormont Executive must meet as soon as possible to take further decisions on Covid-19 measures, DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has said.

A meeting of the administration scheduled today was cancelled after Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill tested positive for Covid-19.

Sir Jeffrey said: “I understand that the deputy first minister, because she is unwell at the moment, cannot attend the Executive, but there are key decisions that need to be made, and I want those decisions to be made as soon as possible.

“People need to know where we’re going; for example, in relation to our response on Covid, on economic recovery, our schools are back, so what’s happening there?

“And we need a cohesive, coherent approach from the Executive, so the sooner we can meet the better, and I’m making that absolutely clear.”

Ms O’Neill tweeted earlier this week that she is currently self-isolating and hopes to return to public duties next week.

She wrote: “I have contracted Covid-19.

“I am thankful to have had two doses of the vaccine.

“I’ll remain in self-isolation and hope to return to my public duties next week.

“Executive Office Minister Declan Kearney will take forward departmental business in the meantime.”

The Executive cannot meet in her absence as it requires both the first and deputy first minister to chair the meeting.

It is now expected to meet next week.

Certain restrictions still apply in Northern Ireland, with no more than 10 people from three households allowed to meet indoors at a private home and hospitality businesses required to operate table service only for drinks.

Meanwhile, nine further deaths of patients who had tested positive for Covid-19 have been reported.

The Department of Health said there had also been 1,472 new confirmed cases in the last 24-hour reporting period.

This morning there were 418 Covid-positive patients in hospital, with 46 in intensive care.

So far, 2,449,587 vaccinas have been administered.

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