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Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

  1. O'Neills temporarily closes factory

    O'Neills

    A County Tyrone sportswear firm has announced it will temporarily close "a section of its production unit" for a deep clean after recording five confirmed cases of Covid-19 within its workforce.

    A spokesperson for the Strabane-based sportswear firm O’Neills said that a further 21 employees from the Dublin Road facility are also currently self-isolating "as a precautionary measure".

    The company said they are liaising closely with the Public Health Agency (PHA) to monitor the situation.

    In a statement, the spokesperson said: “The health and safety of our employees and their families together with our clients and customers is our highest priority.

    "In addition to the deep clean which is currently being carried out, we will continue implementing the rigorous protocols introduced from the outset."

    The company confirmed that arrangements have been made for staff to work from home where possible pending the re-opening of the premises.

  2. Tighter Covid restrictions announced for Donegal

    Mr Martin said that additional supports would be put in place for businesses affected by the decision
    Image caption: Mr Martin said that additional supports would be put in place for businesses affected by the decision

    Tighter Covid-19 restrictions will come into force in County Donegal in an effort to stem rising levels of coronavirus.

    The Irish cabinet agreed to move the county to level three restrictions from midnight on Friday until 16 October.

    The new rules are based on recommendations from public health officials at the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET).

    Donegal was previously on level two of the country's five-level alert system.

    Taoiseach (Irish PM) Micheál Martin said the government had "no choice other than to act and to act decisively" as the seven-day incidence rate of the virus in Donegal is double that of any other county outside Dublin.

    Read more here

  3. Where is NI's R number exactly?

    With an increase in the number of cases in Northern Ireland, the R number - the rate at which the virus spreads - has also tracked steadily upwards.

    For more than a month now, there have been estimates putting it at more than 1, which is the rate at which the number of cases is increasing.

    At this evening's press conference, First Minister Arlene Foster said the R number currently stood at 1.5.

    A graph showing the development of the R number
  4. Announcement on pubs' curfew postponed

    No decision has been reached by the NI Executive yet on imposing a curfew for pubs and restaurants in NI, First Minister Arlene Foster has said.

    It had been anticipated they would announce shorter opening hours for the industry.

    Arlene Foster

    Mrs Foster was speaking at Stormont's coronavirus briefing on Thursday.

    She said ministers would revisit the issue in the assembly on Monday.

    Hospitality leaders have been calling for a later closing time for NI than in the rest of the UK, where it is 22:00 BST.

    In the Republic of Ireland it is 23:30.

    Read the full story here.

  5. 'Need an all island approach' to virus, says O'Neill

    Asked about the news that the Irish government could impose further Covid-19 restrictions on Donegal tonight, Michelle O'Neill said she wasn't across the developing story.

    "I don't fully understand what the position is in Donegal but we live on an island and I believe we need an all-island approach.

    "The virus doesn't stop because you're moving from one jurisdiction to another.

    County Donegal is a popular spot for holiday makers from Northern Ireland
    Image caption: County Donegal is a popular spot for holiday makers from Northern Ireland

    "Clearly as we work our way through what we know is very challenging throughout the island we need to focus on what we can do to move forward."

    She added that the two governments need to "get the balance between allowing people freedom to move about while controlling the virus as best we can".

  6. Arts funding to be spread 'across range of areas'

    Finance Minister Conor Murphy says there has been a total pot of £33m for the arts sector.

    "That is to go across a range of areas," he says.

    Coronavirus

    Mr Murphy says it will be down to the Minister for Communities to decide exactly how the money is spent, but that it will work as a "broad spread of support".

    "It is also about ensuring that performers are able to sustain themselves, so that when we do get the opportunity to fully open up again... they will be able to return.

    "It is a vital part of our tourism sector as well."

  7. 'My focus is on where we are today'

    Asked if she should apologise for her actions during the funeral of the funeral of IRA man Bobby Storey in June, Michelle O'Neill says her only focus was "on the place where we are today".

    "I have said on numerous occasions that I accept responsibility if the public message was in any way damaged - that was never my intention," she added.

    A large number of mourners turned out for the funeral in June
    Image caption: A large number of mourners turned out for the funeral in June

    "What we have to be focused on is the fact that we have a rising rate of coronavirus.

    "We have a job to do and we know we're in for a challenging time ahead. That's where my energy is focused."

  8. 'Public would be unforgiving'

    coronavirus

    Addressing recent deaths in hospital settings, Michelle O'Neill says: "The public would be rightly very unforgiving if we fall into a situation we were in at a point in time over the last six months, particularly given the peak in our nursing homes.

    "We need to protect the most vulnerable and learn the lessons and I believe that's being taken on board by the department [of health] in terms of the approach for the coming months."

  9. 'Care home cases being caught faster'

    First Minister Arlene Foster says the testing programme in NI is successfully picking up cases in care homes faster.

    She says out of 39 care homes, 27 have had outbreaks, with 24 of those being picked up by the testing programme.

    care home

    She says that in March, April, and May time, these were being picked up at a much slower rate.

    "It allows us to take action quicker, and that is something that the health minister discussed with us today," says Mrs Foster.

    Michelle O'Neill says "the public would rightly be very unforgiving" if the care home situation deteriorated to the level it was at previously.

  10. 'No failure to agree on pub curfew'

    coronaviurs

    On the issue of a curfew on pubs, Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill insists there was "no failure to agree anything".

    "We have an agreed way forward, but we want to make sure we have the regulations are in place and we are able to enforce things.

    "Let us get this right and try to communicate this in the best way we can - there is no issue of disagreement."

    She says there was "a very active discussion" on the issue earlier today and that the matter would be concluded, so that there was a "concrete, clear understanding with no ambiguity".

  11. 'Everyone is equal under the law'

    Arlene Foster has commented on her party colleague, Sammy Wilson.

    The East Antrim MP has been photographed on a train in London without a face mask.

    "Everyone is subject to the law, and everyone is equally subject to the law, and equal under the law," she says.

    "So it is important that we remember that, and that is the position of the DUP, and that is certainly the position of its leader."

    Sammy Wilson
  12. 'We must keep our schools open'

    coronavirus schools

    Michelle O'Neill also insisted that children must stay in school.

    "We must keep our schools open and we want parents to know that the this is a priority for executive. The evidence shows there has been very limited transmission within schools and we hope that provides some reasurance to families."

    Appealing to the public to continue to exercise caution, she added: "It's everyone in the community that can make [the restrictions] effective," says Mrs O'Neill.

    "We want everyone to live their lives, but we also want you to do it in a way that keeps you safe and protects your loved ones.

    "Everyone can help by being responsible for their own actions and take a step every day to keep yourself safe."

  13. Concern over chancellor's measures

    Finance Minister Conor Murphy says he has concerns with Chancellor Rishi Sunak's measures to replace the furlough scheme.

    "It is concerning that this is less generous than the furlough scheme," he says.

    Mr Murphy notes the absence of a budget means "continuing uncertainty" and that this will make it "more difficult for the executive to develop its spending plans".

    He says he has raised his concerns with Steve Barcley, the chief secretary to the Treasury.

    Conor Murphy
  14. Executive agrees Covid-19 funding of £165m

    Just as the press conference has begun this evening, the executive has confirmed a funding package of £165m.

    Finance Minister Conor Murphy says the money will go towards "business, infrastructure, arts, schools, and local councils".

    He notes that a substantial chunk of the money will go towards hard-hit arts and culture sector.

    Parts of the measures will also include a holiday at home voucher scheme - as part of a wide range of measures.

  15. 'Ballymena cases down 50% due to restrictions'

    Michelle O'Neill

    Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill says cases in BT45 - Ballymena - are down by 50% due to restrictions.

    She says limited restrictions are mitigating the risk of spreading the virus.

    "Targeted interventions we believe will have positive impact," she added.

    "Had we not intervened this would have led to more than 600 cases per day, more hospital admissions and more losing their lives."

  16. 'Some evidence the measures are working'

    The first minister says that the measures taken in local areas have shown results.

    Arlene Foster notes an impact has been seen in the Ballymena and BT29 areas, with a reduction in the levels of infection.

    "I do want to thank all those who have faithfully kept to the guidelines," she says.

    Mrs Foster says "a number of other decisions" have been taken in other areas, saying a paper from the health minister has been approved, focused on cancer services.

    Arlene Foster
  17. R rate estimated to be at 1.5, says first minister

    Corona R

    The press conference this evening is started by First Minister Arlene Foster.

    She tells the conference that the R rate is currently believed to be at 1.5.

    "I want to begin by taking a moment to reflect on the announcement by the chancellor today," she says.

    She notes the extension of the 5% VAT for tourism and hospitality, which she says has been "extremely helpful".

    Mrs Foster also says 250,000 have been helped through furlough scheme in Northern Ireland.

  18. No decision on curfew

    Jayne McCormack

    BBC News NI political reporter

    No decision has been reached by the executive yet on whether to impose a curfew for pubs and restaurants in NI, BBC News NI understands.

    It had been anticipated they would announce shorter opening hours for the industry.

    It is thought ministers will revisit the issue on Monday. Hospitality leaders have been calling for a later closing time for NI than in the rest of the UK, where it is 22:00 BST.

  19. Nearly 500 extra hospital beds in Republic of Ireland

    The Irish health service has published its winter plan today - with it set to add nearly 500 additional acute hospital beds.

    The document from the Health Service Executive promises 251 beds in the Republic of Ireland this year, with an additional 232 early next year.

    A person in scrubs standing in a hospital ward

    In addition to this, a further 89 sub-acute beds - which are midway beds for patients in a less serious condition but not able to be discharged - will be put in place,

    An additional 17 critical care beds will also be added to the country's existing 282 ICU beds.

    The plan, approved by the Republic's Department of Health, outlines plans to spend an extra €600m (£550m), with €200m (£183m) spent this year, and €400m (£366m) spent next year.

    The plan for the Irish health service runs through to April 2021.

  20. Almost 200 pupils sent home from Cookstown schools

    Kevin Sharkey

    BBC News NI

    Almost 200 pupils at two schools in Cookstown have been sent home following positive Covid-19 tests linked to the schools.

    At the Holy Trinity College, 114 GCSE pupils have been asked to self isolate until further notice.

    The decision was taken after the college was notified of one positive case.

    classroom

    At the nearby Holy Trinity primary school, the parents of 84 pupils in primary four were notified before classes this morning that their children will be out of school today and tomorrow.

    Principal Sheila Devlin told BBC News NI the decision was taken as a “precautionary measure” after one positive test in the year group.