Arrests Made During Protests Against Covid Regulations In Stormont | UTV

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Arrests were made after more than 300 people gathered in Stormont to protest against coronavirus regulations.It comes as Northern Ireland faces four weeks of strict restrictions on movement that the executive has approved to try to halt a dramatic increase in cases in recent weeks.Pubs and restaurants will close for four weeks, except for take-out and deliveries, while schools will close for two weeks on Monday, one of which will cover the midterm break.The measures do not constitute a large-scale lockdown similar to that imposed in the first wave of the virus, but they mark a significant acceleration in the administration’s response to skyrocketing infection rates.There comes a day when five new coronavirus deaths and 1,012 more positive cases have been reported by the Ministry of HealthAs protesters gathered to voice their opposition to the regulations in Stormont compound, the Northern Ireland Police Service (PSNI) were in attendance.Using a loudspeaker, officers read a warning to those gathered about a risk of lawsuits under coronavirus restrictions against large groups meeting outside.The latest regulations ban mass gatherings, stipulating that no more than 15 people can assemble outside.

A number of arrests were made Credit: Pacemaker

PSNI confirmed arrests were made and fines imposed on Stormont on Sunday.Deputy Chief Constable Alan Todd said more than 300 people attended the protest.“The number of participants and the lack of social distancing in the crowd contrasted sharply with the assurances given to the police by the organizers in the days leading up to the event,” he said.“Police worked with organizers before and during the protest to encourage them to disperse and comply with health protection regulations.Unfortunately, both the organizers and the participants did not cooperate with these requests and continued to break the rules.“So the officers decided to enforce the regulations, which resulted in the issuance of fixed penalty notices and a number of arrests. We will also conduct follow-up investigations to seek to identify other individuals who may have committed offenses.Mr Todd added: “As I said before, at other times we would work with organizers and protesters to facilitate legal and peaceful protests, but these are no ordinary times.“Health protection regulations, especially at this time with increased restrictions in place, are there to protect us all during this pandemic and it is everyone’s responsibility to comply with them to protect our society.Asked about the rally on social media, Justice Minister Naomi Long said she discussed the event with Finance Minister Conor Murphy, whose department is responsible for the Stormont estate, and Police Chief of the PSNI last week when she learned about it.She commented: “You can’t stop people from arriving… What steps have been takenis not yet something that I have been informed of. ” Deborah McAleese reports:

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