Following a dramatic surge in Covid infections and hospitalisations, the Northern Ireland Executive has introduced a raft of new restrictions. The most significant of these are the extension of the half-term break in schools to two weeks and the closure of cafes, bars and restaurants - except for takeaway and delivery - for a month. This raises the threat of further large-scale redundancies in the sector, unless there is an immediate emergency intervention.
Queen's University now joins Glasgow and Manchester in locking down halls of residence due to Covid-19 outbreaks. Within the first week of the university term, 30 students in Elms Village in south Belfast have tested positive for the virus. Fears of rising infection rates and the limitations of health and safety measures have been ignored by management in favour of forcing lecturers, support staff and students to participate in in-person classes without a uniform policy of sanitisation, mask-wearing and social distancing.
On Thursday 30 July at 9.15pm new restrictions were imposed on over 4 million people living in Greater Manchester, East Lancashire and parts of West Yorkshire. The restrictions applied from midnight, ie within three hours.
The Stormont politicians’ assurances that workplaces will only reopen when safe ring hollow when you look at the track record of enforcement so far.
The Tory Government’s failure to convincingly meet their own five tests increases both the likelihood and severity of a second wave of the pandemic.