19 May 2022

CORONAVIRUS LATEST: NI Executive will use legislative powers to enforce advice

First and Deputy First Ministers urge public to take action.

CORONAVIRUS LATEST: NI Executive will use legislative powers to enforce advice

Arlene Foster addresses the media this afternoon.

The NI Executive has said they will use legislative powers to enforce government advice on social distancing and have issued another appeal to the public to take action to reduce the spread of Covid-19.

Both Arlene Foster and Michelle O'Neill urged the public to heed the advice of the government and stay at home, while backing calls from Health Minister Robin Swann for non-essential shops and services to close.

First Minister Arlene Foster said: "I cannot spell this out seriously enough - ignoring the guidelines puts front line workers at even greater risk.

"We cannot afford to be cavalier. We will use legislation to enforce social distancing."

Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill echoed Mrs Foster's advice for people to adhere to social distancing guidelines.

She said: "This is not a holiday, it is an emergency.

"If you do have to go out, keep 2 metres away from other people. We won't get a second chance at this.

"We can come through this. We can come out the other end. The message couldn't be clearer - just please stay at home."

The call comes after a weekend in which members of the public flocked to local beauty spots, flaunting the social distancing guidelines urged by the government.

A further 20 cases were confirmed in Northern Ireland on Monday, with the total of 148 bringing the total to 1,034 across the island of Ireland, with six deaths registered.

A meeting of the UK government's Cabinet Office Briefing Rooms (COBR) committee is to take place this evening, with legislative powers to enforce social distancing on the agenda.

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