LIVE updates on Northern Ireland coronavirus as NI executive agrees to new restrictions for Boxing Day

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The NI Executive appears poised to announce a new lockdown for Northern Ireland.
Stormont ministers are meeting on Thursday to discuss a series of new post-Christmas restriction proposals.

It is understood that health officials have recommended a six-week lockdown after the holiday season in an effort to curb the spread of the virus.

It is believed that the new regulations would then be reviewed after a period of four weeks.

Speaking on Wednesday, Health Minister Robin Swann said he would present a number of “tough and extreme” measures at the executive meeting.

Hospitality Ulster chief executive Colin Neil said a full lockdown was now needed to get the virus “under control”.

“We have found ourselves in a situation where a lot of pubs, restaurants and hotels find themselves with an unsustainable business model, but cannot afford to close,” said Mr. Neil.

“We urgently need the Executive to enable hospitality businesses to opt for closure and qualify for financial assistance where it is simply unsustainable to open due to current Covid regulations.”

“We are told that there is light at the end of the tunnel, but for the hospitality industry, it is more like a vertical mine shaft with no escape route in sight.

A Belfast GP on Thursday echoed calls for a six-week lockdown to relieve hospitals and help the vaccine rollout program.

Dr Alan Stout, chairman of the Northern Ireland GP committee, said a full lockdown for a minimum period of four weeks should be in place.

He said: “What I think we now know for sure is that a short term partial breaker is not working.

“It has to be final and we really have to reduce the level of infection.

“Four weeks minimum and probably six weeks [of lockdown] is preferable because this is where you will be really on top. ”

We’ll have all the latest updates and feedback throughout the day on our live blog below.

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