Coronavirus: Schools in NI shut as two-week closure begins

Coronavirus: Schools in NI shut as two-week closure begins

Schools in Northern Ireland are shut on Monday as part of new restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of Covid-19.

The two-week closure, which includes the half-term holiday, is set to be reviewed on 2 November.

Restrictions imposed on businesses in Northern Ireland by the Executive came in at 18:00 BST on Friday.

Restaurants and cafes are now limited to takeaway and delivery services for four weeks.

Restrictions have also been imposed on hotels, the beauty industry and on indoor and contact sport.

A further six Covid-19 related deaths have been reported in Northern Ireland by the Department of Health, bringing its total to 621.

The department also reported an additional 820 positive cases of the virus, meaning there have been 28,040.

There were 3,869 individuals tested in the previous 24 hours.

Education Minister Peter Weir has vowed to oppose any move to extend the school closures in Northern Ireland beyond two weeks.

The minister said there had been little evidence that schools were significantly contributing to rising Covid-19 numbers.

Sinn Féin’s Conor Murphy said his party would have been prepared to back a longer closure, but they were “content” with the decision.

A fund to help businesses forced to shut due to increased coronavirus restrictions is due to open for applications on Monday.

The Department of Finance expects the scheme to cost £35m pounds over four weeks.

The fund is only available to businesses forced to close or where the use of premises is restricted and is an extension of the help already in place for businesses in the Derry City and Strabane council area.

Police made a number of arrests and handed out fixed penalty notices at a protest against the restrictions at Stormont on Sunday.

As well as the closure of the hospitality sector (apart from deliveries and takeaways), off-licences and supermarkets are not to sell alcohol after 20:00 and fast-food and takeaway premises are to close at 23:00.

Driving instructors must stop offering lessons and as a result, the Department of Infrastructure has also decided to suspend driving tests.

Other restrictions laid out in the guidance are:

The following advice has been added to the existing health guidance:

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