Covid-19: Call for ‘collective effort’ in North to curb spread

Next year one ‘of renewed hope’ due to vaccine, says Minister of Health

Stormont health Minister Robin Swann has called for a "huge collective effort" as Northern Ireland moves into another period of intensified Covid-19 restrictions.

The North on St Stephen’s Day entered six weeks of lockdown measures, although the curbs will be reviewed by the Northern Executive after four weeks. It came as the health department reported 20 coronavirus related deaths and 998 positive cases over the previous 48 hours. It did not issue any figures on Sunday.

For the first week of restrictions, in an effort to curb Christmas holiday social activity such as house parties, people are advised to observe a “curfew” and remain at home from 8pm to 6am.

The lockdown applies to the hospitality, retail and leisure sectors. Organised sport is banned during the lockdown while for the first week of the restrictions elite sport is also prohibited.


Mr Swann, an Ulster Unionist Party member, called on everyone across Northern Ireland to play their part in fighting back against Covid-19 "in this crucial period".

“We need another huge collective effort across society to push down Covid infection rates,” he said.

“We do that by reducing our contacts with others, by staying at home, by keeping our distance from others if we need to be outdoors for good reason, and by wearing a face covering and washing our hands,” he added.

Mr Swann said he knew 2020 had been tough “and how fed up we all are with this virus” but he was confident that people could “all pull together once again at this critical time”.

He said “2021 is a year of renewed hope with the vaccine roll-out. We need a concerted and united push in the next few months to get us to a better place.”

Mr Swann said that people must not be tempted to visit friends during this Christmas holiday week.

“It’s not just about complying with the regulations, it’s about keeping yourself and others safe,” he said.

“A New Year’s Eve house party would not just be against the law. It could be a super-spreader event, could leave people very seriously ill and could even cost lives.”

Gerry Moriarty

Gerry Moriarty

Gerry Moriarty is the former Northern editor of The Irish Times