Covid-19: North’s health minister ‘would have liked stricter measures’ in run-up to Christmas

Robin Swann says he has to accept he operates in five-party Executive

Robin Swann: North likely to be facing another period of intensified restrictions in the new year

Robin Swann: North likely to be facing another period of intensified restrictions in the new year

 

The North’s health minister has said he would have preferred stricter coronavirus restrictions in Northern Ireland in the run-up to Christmas.

Commenting on the ending of the circuit-break lockdown and the reopening of shops and much of the hospitality sector, Robin Swann said he had to accept that he operated in a five-party Executive.

“From a health point of view of course we would have liked to have seen I suppose stricter.

“But you know we have to realise the time of the season we’re in and the fact that it is a five-party Executive,” he said.

“But I am content that there’s enough guidance out there if people follow them – follow the rules and regulations that we have actually have set down — that we can keep this virus under control, we can stop the spread of Covid throughout our community in Northern Ireland.”

Asked if Northern Ireland would be facing another period of intensified restrictions in the new year, Mr Swann said: “I would say at this point in time, yes, we will be. But how severe and how strict that is will depend on people’s actions over the next two to three weeks.”

Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said she was nervous about what Northern Ireland might be facing in January.

Asked if she had concerns about the relaxations introduced on Friday and if she was nervous what those might mean for the region in January, she replied: “To be completely honest, I am. I think we’ve tried to find a balanced way forward throughout the whole of the pandemic. It remains the case today that we know that everything we’re doing comes with risk.

“But I think that the public have the capacity to try to keep this in check, to keep the virus in check by limiting our movements, all of us collectively limiting their movements, being careful, being safe, following the public health advice, we have the capacity to actually try and keep this virus in check.” – PA