Covid-19 restrictions in North may stretch into autumn – O’Neill

The deputy First Minister warned cases are increasing and urged people to be mindful

Covid-19 restrictions in the North may stretch into the autumn, Stormont deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill has suggested.

The Sinn Féin deputy leader warned “cases are increasing and will continue to increase” and that officials are carefully watching how that rise translates into hospitalisation and deaths in the region.

Dismissing the scale of the easing of coronavirus restrictions in England as "reckless", Ms O'Neill said the North will "follow our own path".

“We will have a better understanding of our own situation certainly by mid-summer and towards the end of July and be able to predict perhaps a bit further into the autumn,” she said.


Ms O’Neill urged people to “be mindful that as we make some easements and start to have some semblance of normality we all need to be very careful”.

But it was “too early to say” whether restrictions will continue into the autumn, she told BBC’s Sunday Politics.

“There are certainly some restrictions, for example face coverings, that the health team have not at this stage given us any indication,” she said.

“We are going to discuss it at the August 12th [Stormont] Executive meeting, on that one issue for example, but I don’t think we are going to be in a position to take a decision at that stage.

“So I think we will be looking at into the early autumn before we will get more towards the end point of being able to lift more things.”

On Sunday, one further death linked to Covid 19 was reported in the North, bringing the total death toll since the start of the pandemic to 2,158.

There were another 605 new cases identified, with the overall number of positive cases to date totaling 132,469.