Northern Ireland news

Covid self-isolation period to be reduced from seven days to five in NI

First Minister Paul Givan and deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill at Parliament Buildings, Stormont. File picture by David Young, Press Association
Rebecca Black, PA

Northern Ireland’s First Minister Paul Givan has indicated that the self-isolation period for Covid-19 will reduce from seven days to five.

Mr Givan tweeted that the Department of Health has confirmed that the new rule will apply from January 21.

In the same tweet, Mr Givan also indicated that he hoped progress can be made at the meeting of the Stormont Executive on Thursday to lift some Covid measures.

The First Minister, along with deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill, met with Health Minister Robin Swann, chief medical officer Sir Michael McBride and chief scientific adviser Professor Ian Young on Wednesday to discuss the latest state of the pandemic in the region.

Mr Givan and Ms O’Neill will travel to Derry on Thursday for a visit, and will remain in the city to virtually chair a meeting of the Executive.

Ministers are expected to consider a series of relaxations of Covid-19 rules.

The outcome of these discussions is to be announced at a press conference in Derry on Thursday afternoon.

Relaxations, if agreed, are likely to be introduced on a phased basis, and include some of the latest restrictions implemented, the PA news agency understands.

On December 22, a series of restrictions on the hospitality sector, including the closure of nightclubs from Boxing Day onward.

Mr Givan tweeted: “Today I’ve been engaging with colleagues & officials on what Covid measures can be lifted at tomorrow’s Executive.

“I’m hopeful we can make progress.”

Earlier this week, there were calls from the business community for relaxations to restrictions.

Belfast Chamber chief executive Simon Hamilton said predictions about how hard Omicron would hit had been “wide of the mark”, but added the effect of restrictions on businesses was “very real”.

The deaths of a further six people who had previously tested positive for Covid-19 were announced on Wednesday, as well as another 4,451 cases of the virus.

On Wednesday morning, there were 404 Covid-positive patients in hospital, with 25 in intensive care.

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