Great Britain

Northern Ireland goes into coronavirus lockdown as pubs close with locals facing £5k fines if they break rules

NORTHERN Ireland has gone into strict coronavirus lockdown with pubs closing and locals warned they face £5,000 fines if they break the rules.

Gatherings of more than two people are now banned under emergency Covid-19 laws, which follow those passed in Westminster this week, as the country tries to curb the spread of the deadly disease.

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Pubs and other public venues have been closed and people are not allowed to leave their homes without a reasonable excuse.

Anyone caught flouting the rules could be slapped with a £5,000 fine under the new regulations.

Manufacturing and most of the service sector can remain open but they must comply with strict rules on social distancing.

First Minister Arlene Foster said: "These are extraordinary powers for any Government to have to introduce, but we are living in extraordinary times.

"We are asking the people of Northern Ireland to make fundamental changes to how they live their lives. But we are doing this to keep you safe, to flatten the curve of the Covid-19 infection so that the health service has the capacity to deal with those who need their help the most.

"We know the enormity of what we are asking of the public, but it is proportionate to the threat we all face from this deadly virus. No-one is immune."

The death toll has continued to rise in Northern Ireland - with two further deaths on Saturday bringing the total to 15.

There were also 49 new positive cases of Covid-19 reported as the total number reached 324.

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The whole of the UK now has 17,089 positive cases and 1,019 deaths.

Health Minister Robin Swann said: "The coronavirus pandemic is affecting every one of us, and every aspect of public life. We think particularly of those who have lost loved ones to this virus.

"These emergency regulations are an essential component of the strategy to tackle the pandemic and will ensure a consistent approach across the four regions of the UK.

"The extreme disruption to normal life would have been unthinkable just a few short weeks ago. It is a price we all have to pay, to protect each other and the health service.

"Everyone has to take personal responsibility for their actions and to stick rigidly to these restrictions for as long as they are needed. It is a matter of life and death."

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