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Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

  1. Summary of new measures in Derry City and Strabane

    That brings us to the end of our coverage of the executive briefing on new Covid measures, listed below, which will come into force from next week and last for at least a fortnight.

    • Pubs, cafes, restaurants and hotels will only be able to open for takeaway, delivery and outdoor dining
    • Where residents can, working from home
    • Where journeys are necessary, advice is to walk, cycle or use private transport
    • Avoid unnecessary travel within the council area and to and from it
    • Indoor sports limited to individual training only, no exercise classes permitted
    • No organised indoor gatherings in community halls
    • All museums, galleries and cultural attractions in the council area are to remain closed
    • No spectators can attend sporting events
    • Hotels will only be allowed to provide service to overnight guests
    • Libraries can only operate a "call and collect" service

    The executive agreed to impose the measures on hospitality at its meeting on Thursday afternoon.

    Schools and other educational settings will stay open.

    Church services will continue, and weddings and funerals will still be permitted, in line with current executive guidance.

    Ministers have started work on how financial support measures can be drawn up for those affected by the new measures.

  2. 'Students have had some unfair coverage'

    Dr McBride said a working group is liaising with both universities and councils to work through a range of issues around student life.

    "There is very active work looking at support packages for those who are self-isolating," he says.

    Michael McBride

    "We also need to enhance the level of support provided for students' mental health and wellbeing. If indeed we are recommending students should make a decision in terms of working online, on campus or a blend of both, the safest thing to do in order to minimise the risk of spread is to stay put."

    He adds that it is important to recognise that students have had "some unfair coverage in the press".

    "We've seen the behaviour of the few almost being seen as representative of all students and I don't think that is the case."

  3. 'Students feel forgotten about', says O'Neill

    On the issue of students returning to their homes this weekend and potentially spreading the virus further in doing so, Ms O'Neill says she has committed to an online question and answer session with students to try to give them the support and clarity they need.

    Oneill

    "They feel that they've been forgotten about in this conversation and they feel they're not getting the right information from universities.

    "Students have made commitments to accommodation that they can't get out of, they're worrying about will they get home for Christmas, can they get home at the weekend.

    "All of those things are weighing heavily on [their] minds and I hope to do a dedicated session on that in the coming days."

  4. Pub owner 'devastated' by new restrictions

    PUB

    Jordan McGonigle, part-owner of the Village Inn pub outside Strabane, has said he is "devastated" by the restrictions put on the hospitality sector in the north west.

    "We do appreciate that action is required in our area," he said.

    "But it seems the hospitality sector is getting hit the hardest without any financial package in place to help out."

    He added: "We can operate a carry-out service. It'll get some income coming in, but its gong to be very difficult and challenging.

    "It's a huge blow."

  5. Turkey and Poland added to travel quarantine list

    As the executive outlines the restrictions for the north west, new countries have also been added to the travel quarantine list.

    Travellers from Turkey and Poland are among those who now have to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival into Northern Ireland.

    Also from 04:00 BST on Saturday 3 October those arriving from Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba will have to stay home for a fortnight.

  6. Will there be a 'circuit breaker' lockdown?

    The idea of a two week "circuit breaker" comes up again during questions after the briefing.

    A circuit breaker is a short, sharp period of lockdown, usually about two weeks. On Wednesday Health Minister Robin Swann did not rule out recommending it before the Halloween break.

    The first minister says that's not on the cards yet, as she is looking for "proportionate" responses to the current situation.

    But she says if it does happen, a "circuit breaker" lockdown should happen across the whole of the UK and there has to be support for businesses in that eventuality.

    The deputy first minister says if there is to be a two-week lockdown, then it should happen across the UK and Republic of Ireland at the same time.

    Ms O'Neill says: "We have to consider every option, we have to respond to this virus as it transmits across the north, so I think we need to be open to doing whatever is necessary because our number one priority is to save lives."

    She adds that it’s important that the public has advance notice if a circuit breaker is to be brought in.

  7. 'We recognise how challenging this is for businsses'

    Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill says that what the executive is proposing is "a proportionate response to what is happening in the Derry and Strabane area".

    "It's really alarming to see the rise in cases in that area over the last six days," she says.

    Ms O'Neill adds that the executive recognises how challenging the restrictions are for the business community and that it wants to support them.

    "We want to work with all those businesses that are impacted. We can't give any concrete infomation around that but the executive is looking at this as we speak and we hope to say more about it at the beginning of next week."

  8. 'Clusters' in Derry and Strabane area

    Arlene Foster says the restrictions in the north west are "not necessarily" a template for what could happen in the rest of Northern Ireland.

    She says the executive will be led by the test, trace and protect system, as well as the scientific advice.

    Some of the clusters in the north west have been linked to community venues, while others are linked to hospitality venues.

    Mrs Foster says social interactions in the area have to be pulled back.

    She says it is "hugely disappointing" to put them in place and she recognises the imposition on people's lives.

  9. 'Numbers will double within next nine days'

    Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael McBride says the 'doubling time' is currently less than 14 days and most probably nine days.

    "It's easy to talk about numbers but we need to remember that behind these numbers are real people," he says.

    "What we're likely to see, irrespective of the measures we take today, the decisions that the executive has made, is that those numbers will double within the next nine days and if we don't get control of the virus, the numbers will double again."

    Dr McBride adds: "The admissions will continue to increase and we estimate that unless we intervene now and all do the right thing, we will be seeing numbers of hospital admissions the same as wave one at our peak of about 300 per day certainly within the next six weeks, and possibly as soon as the next three weeks."

  10. 'By no means a lockdown'

    Arlene Foster

    First Minister Arlene Foser tells the Stormont briefing this is "by no means a lockdown".

    Schools and colleges in the north west will continue to operate, as will childcare.

    Ms Foster says work is under way to provide further support for those who will be adversely affected by the new restrictions.

    She also says the executive is continuing to look at how the restrictions can be enforced.

  11. 'We are looking at increased penalties', says O'Neill

    Ms O'Neill warns those who have already had the virus: "There are no guarantees you won't get it again and you can still carry it to other people, so you need to be just as careful as everyone else."

    She adds that "at such a serious point in this epidemic, we do have some concerns around compliance".

    "We are looking at, for example, the level of penalties. Of course we don't want to go there, but if we play our part, we can get back onto firmer ground and get a grip on this virus."

  12. Further restrictions to combat 'frightening increaase' in Derry and Strabane

    Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill says the executive has met and considered the "concerning levels" of Covid.

    There has been a "particularly frightening increase" in cases in the Derry and Strabane area, she says.

    "We have looked at the evidence and listened to the advice of medical experts and it's clear that doing nothing is not an option."

    She says further restrictions for the area include no indoor gatherings or indoor sport, no working in workplaces where working from home is not possible.

    A maximum of 15 people are permitted to meet outdoors.

    "Hotels can only provide services to its residents, libraries can operate but it will be a call and collect service, schools, early learning and childcare services should remain open," she says.

    "Adult and higher educational institutions should remain open but are asked to review their protective measures and to take steps to limit the gathering of groups of people as much as possible."

  13. New restrictions confirmed for Derry City and Strabane

    First Minister Arlene Foster confirms tighter restrictions are being brought in for Derry City and Strabane District Council area.

    She says: "We must tighten our defecnes and join together to defend each other."

    She says we must act "decisively to contain and stop the spread" of the virus to other areas

    Some of the restrictions include:

    • Pubs, cafes, restaurants and hotels will only be able to open for takeaway, delivery and outdoor dining
    • People are being strongly advised" to work from home where they can
    • People are also being advised to avoid unnecessary travel within the council area and to and from it
    • Where journeys are necessary, advice is to walk, cycle or use private transport
    • Schools and other educational settings will stay open
    • Under the new rules, all museums, galleries and cultural attractions in the council area are to remain closed
  14. 'Urgent situation' in the north west

    First Minister Arlene Foster says in a few short weeks the Derry City and Strabane Area has gone from having the lowest number of cases in the UK to among the highest.

    She says there are now 300 cases per 100,000 people and the R rate for Covid-19 is two or higher.

    She says the rapid turrnaround shows the challenges we are all facing.

  15. Altnagelvin suspends some orthopaedic services

    Louise Cullen

    BBC News NI

    Altnagelvin

    Elective orthopaedic inpatient services have been suspended at Altnagelvin Hospital in Londonderry.

    The Western Trust says it follows an increased number of Covid-19 admissions to the hospital, particularly in the past week.

    That has forced it to implement its surge plan and re-designate the ward to manage Covid-19 patients and to have enough inpatient beds to cope with an expected surge.

    The trust says the decision is temporary and will be kept under review.

    It has also warned that it is facing increased staff pressures, as rising levels of Covid-19 in the community mean more and more staff are being asked to self-isolate.

  16. Foyle MLAs called to meet ministers

    Foyle MLAs have been called to a meeting with executive junior ministers about the potential for more restrictions in Derry and Strabane, BBC News NI understands.

    It comes as the executive is deciding whether to approve further measures to tackle the spread of Covid-19.

    Council covid breakdown

    The Derry City and Strabane District Council area has one of the highest Covid-19 rates in the UK and Health Minister Robin Swann said it was inevitable additional measures would have to be introduced there.

    Nearly half of all positive cases in the area have been diagnosed in the last seven days.

  17. Thursday's case numbers

    Earlier this afternoon, the Department of Health announced a further 259 cases of Covid-19, down from 424 on Wednesday.

    Two further Covid-related deaths have been announced, bringing the Department of Health's total to 581.

    Thursday stats
  18. First and deputy first ministers due at Stormont briefing

    Arlene Foster and Michelle O'Neill

    We are waiting to hear it there are any changes to current coronavirus restrictions in Northern Ireland.

    Following a record number of daily positive cases yesterday, the health minister said he would be bringing "a set of proposals" to today's executive meeting.

    Arlene Foster and Michelle O'Neill will take to their podiums shortly to see if any further restrictions were agreed by ministers.