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Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

  1. Goodnight

    That's it for our live coverage for today - thanks for joining us.

    The morning team will have further updates from 07:30 BST tomorrow.

    Goodnight, stay safe and we will leave you with some more sunshine in the form of this picture from Des Gamble, taken in Lisbellaw County Fermanagh.

    bright
  2. Dominic Cummings row fact-checked

    Dominic cummings

    As we heard earlier, Durham Police has investigated the UK prime minister's top aide over the relocation of his family to Durham during lockdown.

    They found that when Mr Cummings subsequently drove to Barnard Castle to check his eyesight "there might have been a minor breach" of the law.

    Mr Cummings has maintained he behaved reasonably and legally throughout the episode.

    Our Reality Check team have looked at the key points of contention in Cummings' account of his actions.

  3. Ireland's R number estimated at 0.5

    Ireland's reproduction number, or R number, is estimated to be 0.5.

    The R number is the number of people that one infected person will pass the virus on to, on average.

    Professor Philip Nolan, from the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET), said ICU and hospital admissions and number of deaths per day continued to decline, while the number of cases per day remained stable.

    “Next week we will see figures that reflect the impact of Phase 1 measures on key disease spread indicators. It is our hope that the R-number will remain below one and our progress is preserved,” he said.

    Ireland's chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said NPHET was "very aware of the sad toll of lost loved ones on families".

    He said a mortality paper discussed by the team today identified that mortality in Ireland was "within the lower range in overall terms compared with other health systems across Europe".

    Dr Tony Holohan
  4. BreakingNine further Covid-19-linked deaths in ROI

    There have been a further nine coronavirus-related deaths in the Republic of Ireland, bringing its total to 1,639.

    There is now a total of 24,841 confirmed cases in the country, following notification of another 46 cases as of midnight on Wednesday.

  5. What is NI's contact tracing plan?

    Corograph

    Northern Ireland was the first of the four UK administrations to roll out a contact tracing programme, as part of its plans to tackle coronavirus.

    Public health officials say contact tracing is a key part of the response in trying to control the virus.

    Here's a guide to what the process involves and how it is being carried out in Northern Ireland.

  6. Some restrictions eased in England

    The government has announced the easing of several restrictions in England.

    From Monday, six people will be able to meet in public spaces and private spaces outdoors, such as gardens, if households stay two metres apart.

    Prime Minister Boris Johnson said people are still not allowed to be inside the homes of family and friends.

    Boris Johnson

    He also announced that some retail will be allowed to reopen on Monday, such as car showrooms, with more to follow on 15 June, depending on the infection rate.

    He warned "there will be further local outbreaks", and the government is prepared to "put on the breaks as required and, where necessary, reimpose measures".

    For the latest on measures which are being eased in Northern Ireland, click here.

  7. 'Social distancing goes against instinct of mourners'

    The PSNI has been reminding mourners at funerals to make sure they socially distance.

    They say that at times, families are telling funeral directors that they will, but then that doesn't happen.

    The BBC's Evening Extra programme heard from a funeral director who said social distancing can be difficult to enforce at a time of great sadness and heightened emotion.

    Laurence ONeill said the need to stay apart goes against all instincts when families are grieving.

    He added that when council cemeteries reopened to the public, it became difficult to distinguish between funeral mourners and those who were attending the grave of a loved one.

    cemetery

    He said a small number of mourners desperate to attend a funeral have gone in the pretence of visiting a grave, which has caused anxiety for funeral directors.

    "No one wants to be standing at a gate to be the bad guy turning mourners away," he explained.

    However, he stressed that such incidents are "very rare".

    Most mourners, he said, "understand the rules are there to protect themselves and the grave diggers and our own staff".

    "Nobody is doing this to be awkward or to make it more diffiult for families on an already difficult day.

    "You can see when people stand out to line the route [of a funeral procession] they are two metres apart. That has allowed us to manage this so well."

  8. Hotel initiative points to pressure OFMDFM is under

    Mark Devenport

    BBC News NI Political Editor

    The first and deputy first ministers announced the slightly strange-sounding initiative regarding hotels, in that you can take bookings, but they'll tell you nearer to the time if you can actually fulfil those bookings.

    That's probably because they're under pressure from society to restart the economy. On the other hand, they're under pressure from scientists, because they did say the 'R number' is currently at 0.9 - previously it was between 0.7 and 0.8.

    While we can see the death figures have gone down, the transmission rate is clearly still concerning the executive.

    Hotel

    The scientific advisors are presumably waiting to see how the effects of initial lockdown easing work through the system, because it takes two or three weeks to assess how changes in social behaviour affect the spread of coronavirus.

    It's interesting that they said in the recovery document that people could get together indoors in a socially distant way in Step 1.

    Now, on a number of occasions, they have deferred a decision on that. We could now be in a position where we see large retail chains reopening, while there is still no decision on indoor meetings.

    Maybe they've assessed that it will be easier to police social distancing in large outlets along the lines of what has already been established in supermarkets. That is something that can't be policed inside houses.

  9. 'Disappointing' that no date given for hotels to return

    Earlier it was announced that hotels will beable to take advance bookings, for when they can reopen again.

    However, Janice Gault, chief executive of the NI Hotels Federation, tells BBC Evening Extra it is a “little disappointing” that no date was provided.

    “We're not sure if we can take the bookings today or if we have to wait until 8 June," she says.

    She says it is a "difficult pathway" made more so by the lack of a time frame.

    "We are conscious of the R figure and staff anxiety and reassuring customers and this gives neither of these things," she says.

    “If you have an event we take the booking but may not be able to accept the business."

    She says the industry has explored guidelines for staff to come back under and additional measures for safety.

    “All of those things take time and it is a little disappointing that there was no clear indication of a date given at this moment," she says.

    hotel room

    Did today’s briefing offer any reassurance?

    “In reality, not really,” she says.

    “A number of hotels will load product and set a date themselves and provided the R figure is in the right direction they will go with that date.

    “Most are going along the lines of south of Ireland while some are looking at the date mooted in the UK," she says.

    However she does say she is pleased there has been a recognition that the accommodation sector must be dealt with.

  10. NI contact tracers follow up 212 cases in first week

    Louise Cullen

    BBC News NI

    The Public Health Agency says the contact tracing scheme in Northern Ireland has followed up on 212 cases in its first week of operation, up to Monday 25 May.

    Each was phoned and a total of 216 contacts traced.

    Mask

    There are 78 people trained to carry out the tracing work, operating in teams of five to seven depending on the number of results received each day.

  11. Is this the final hurrah for clap for carers?

    Doug Faulkner

    BBC News Online

    taff from Belfast City Hospital, Belfast's Nightingale Hospital, take part in tonight's Clap for Carers in support of the NHS and key workers who are on the front line in Northern Ireland

    This evening many in the UK will grab pots and pans, scoop up the dog, and nervously look out of the window to make sure our neighbours are doing the same.

    Then, when the clock strikes 20:00 BST, the sound of clapping, cheering and wooden spoons hitting saucepan lids will once again fill the street as we celebrate those working on the frontline of the coronavirus pandemic.

    But founder Annemarie Plas has said the 10th week of clapping would be a good time for it to end and for it to instead become an annual event.

    So is this the end of the weekly clap? Read more here.

  12. Relaxation of lockdown 'bitter pill to swallow' for some retailers

    Aodhán Connolly

    News that large retailers will be allowed to reopen on 8 June will be a "bitter pill to swallow" for some, according to Aodhán Connolly, from the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium.

    Mr Connolly said the announcement that large retailers such as car showrooms and shops in retail parks may reopen was "progress".

    But he said the situation was becoming "more grave" for those businesses that may not open.

    Speaking on Radio Ulster's Evening Extra programme, he said: "The longer this goes on, the less likely it is that other retailers will reopen."

    He said many retailers were preparing for the "new normal".

    "Our priority is going to be the safety of staff and customers. There will be social distancing, different ways of queuing, more hygiene washing stations," he said.

    "We will be training our staff to do this, we need the public to follow the guidelines, to follow the rules and one-way systems that will be in place."

    Mr Connolly said support was also needed from the Northern Ireland Executive and councils who would need to facilitate the movement of people through towns and cities “to make this work”.

  13. NI aims to allow small outdoor weddings from June

    Outdoors weddings with 10 people present may be allowed in NI from 8 June, the executive has agreed.

    Large retailers such as car showrooms and shops in retail parks will also be allowed to reopen, ministers said, having met to review lockdown rules.

    First Minister Arlene Foster said the executive would confirm the changes after it meets on 4 June.

    Ministers want to ensure the R-number remains below one before lifting restrictions further.

    Read more here.

  14. 'Further clarification' needed on non-essential shops reopening

    shop

    The executive announcement that more retail businesses on the "non-essential" list can plan to reopen has been welcomed by Retail NI.

    Chief Executive Glyn Roberts said it was“a welcome step forward towards the wider reopening of our local retail sector and our town and city centres".

    However, he added that "further clarification" was needed on the timings, type and size of retail that can open.

    “Retail NI has written to the first and deputy first ministers urging them to establish a High Street and Retail Advisory group to ensure the executive can move forward with a reopening roadmap which is fully in line with medical advice,” he said.

    He added that it is "absolutely vital" that shoppers are confident shops and high streets are safe when we reach the stage of a wider reopening.

  15. PM stresses 'UK-wide' approach on call with Foster and O'Neill

    The prime minister has had a phone call with the first ministers of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as well as the deputy first minister of Northern Ireland.

    A Downing Street spokesman said Boris Johnson had made clear that as the UK moves to the next phase of tackling this virus, "he remains determined to work closely with the devolved administrations".

    "This continues to be a UK-wide approach, even though we may travel at slightly different speeds based on the scientific evidence, he added".

    Boris J

    Number 10 said Mr Johnson had stressed the importance of "close engagement on programmes that must be UK-wide to be most effective".

    "This includes contact tracing, where coordinated systems across the UK will be critical to the next phase of our efforts," he said.

    "They also discussed the important work of the UK Joint Biosecurity Centre in making the response across the country increasingly targeted.

    “They all agreed that continued engagement is vital and that they will remain in close contact in the days and weeks ahead,” he added.

  16. More than 200 NI contact tracing cases in past week

    Northern Ireland was the first of the four UK administrations to roll out a contact tracing programme, as part of its plans to tackle coronavirus.

    Contact tracing aims to identify and alert people who have come into contact with a person infected with coronavirus.

    Michelle O'Neill said the executive has been informed that, to date, 99 health and social care staff have been redeployed as contact tracers and that in the past week, 212 cases were contact traced, with an average of about 30 per day.

    She said NI has moved from a pilot contact tracing programme to "full blown contact tracing" by health workers.

    michelle o'neill

    Every positive test case is contacted, she added, with tracers averaging five case calls over their shifts.

    "There has been considerable work done in terms of rolling out contract tracing and I'm certainly glad we've gone from pilot to full on contact tracing, because that's going to be a crucual part of our recovery. In the absence of a vaccine it's important that we roll this work out because that will allow us to lift more restructions."

    Arlene Foster said she was "very pleased" that NI is the first part of the UK to have contact tracing in place.

  17. Premier League to restart on 17 June

    Dan Roan

    BBC Sports editor

    The Premier League season is set to restart on 17 June with Aston Villa v Sheffield United and Manchester City v Arsenal, the BBC has learned.

    The matches are the two games in hand.

    A full fixture list would then be played on the weekend of 19-21 June.

    Clubs are still discussing the idea at a meeting on Thursday, but it is understood all have agreed in principle at this stage.

  18. 'Igonoring advice could extend lockdown for all'

    At this afternoon's Stormont briefing, Michelle O'Neill also warned about the need to continue social distancing.

    "Anyone choosing to ignore the public health advice could be extending lockdown for all of us," she said.

    She added that the executive "absolutely recognise the personal sacrifices" made by the public.

    She acknowledged that "so many weeks into this, people are getting exasperated".

    "Currently the advice is that its still too risky to meet indoors, but we want to get there."

    chain

    She said that when they have a proper analysis of the transmission rate next week, they will take stock of the situation.

    "The estimate is that only 5% of the population has been infected here.

    "We've always said coming out of this will be more difficult than going into it.

    "We've also said we would take into account the wider health, economic and societal issues. We want a prosperous economy at the other side of this. We've got some momentum today, we hope to build on that next week."

  19. Visiting relatives indoors remains banned

    The executive has again deferred making a decision on allowing people to visit relatives indoors.

    Step one of its plan to ease coronavirus lockdown restrictions specified "with the exception of people who are shielding, visits to immediate family allowed indoors where social distancing is possible".

    Announcing that a number of restrictions would be lifted from 8 June, First Minister Arlene Foster explained there remained concerns around the 'R rate' and she acknowledges "people will be disappointed" that they could not go further.

    Arlene Foster

    Referring to the 'R rate', she says: "Too many relaxations too quickly can push it back up into the territory that we do not want it to be in."

    She says there are "too many" anecdotes of people disobeying restrictions, while traffic flow on Tuesday this week was up 11.5% compared to the previous Tuesday.

    The first minister says people can visit relatives in other ways.

    "I am grateful that we have such beautiful weather and that people can see each other outside, because outside the virus does not stay around as long as inside," Mrs Foster explains.

    She says the executive will consider further measures in its next review by the 18 June.

  20. Executive can't give definitive date for hotel opening

    michelle o'neill

    Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill said although Stormont can't give a definitive date for the reopening of hotels, they can now take advance bookings.

    "We're being lobbied on many issues, not just hotels - it's also caravans, B&BS.... it's important that we come forward on those things together and we'll come back to you next week when we have this paper around the whole tourism sector."

    The Stormont Executive agreed to the changes this afternoon after it met to review the lockdown regulations.

    Ms O'Neill said non-food retail outlets will be permitted to operate where they have direct on street access.