Updated 2 hours ago
STORMONT MINISTERS Failed to Agree on Extension of Northern Circuit-Break Corona Virus Controls.
Ministers in the Powershare Executive will resume on Tuesday morning.
Extensive discussions on Monday failed to produce results, and ministers are at loggerheads over whether to extend some action or two weeks.
The executive adjourned the meeting to Monday morning for more information on the possible consequences of easing certain restrictions.
They met again early in the morning for further discussions. The ministers did not make a diversion to resume at 11am.
The four-week circuit break lockdown that forced most of the hospitality sector in Northern Ireland to close will end at midnight on Thursday.
Hospitals are still under constant pressure over the entry of Kovid-19, and ministers are preparing to extend some of the restrictions for another two weeks.
However, they are considering easing certain measures. It is known that these will allow cafes and restaurants to reopen, but without selling alcohol.
However, it is doubtful whether the ministers will go ahead with this option, as the discussions on Monday evening acknowledged the concerns raised by the hospitality sector.
Representatives in the region hoped that the inability to sell alcohol would make trade impossible.
Leading Belfast restaurant Michael Dean called the proposal “crazy.”
“Where will it take us?” He asked. “It’s absolutely devastating. I think it’s criminal. I think it’s absolutely ridiculous.”
DUP MP Ian Paisley was among those who criticized the move by the DUP / Sinn Fൻin-led coalition.
He accused the executive of making decisions for “optics” to make the administration look better.
Paisley questioned the clear basis for claiming that banning alcohol in restaurants would reduce the rate of infection.
“It’s like saying you can open a hairdresser, but you can’t use a comb,” he told the BBC.
“Seriously, what is the evidence for that?”
It is learned that the executive is planning to extend the closure of pubs that do not sell food for another two weeks.
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Ministers are also considering whether to allow the resumption of close-contact services such as hairdressers and beauticians, subject to strict regulations.
The ministers called for further analysis of the proposals at a remote executive meeting on Monday that lasted an hour and 20 minutes.
Chief Medical Officer Dr. Michael McBride and Chief Scientific Adviser Professor Ian Young sought to gather evidence related to the proposed moves.
The ministers met again this evening to consider the information.
DUP favors easing of existing restrictions.
Sinfen is understood to be content to extend many restrictions, but some want to see some easy ones, especially for those working in the next contact service.
Ministers are under pressure to reach an agreement that will give businesses time to prepare for possible changes.
It is understandable that they are evaluating whether to allow the resumption of close-contact services such as hairdressers and beauticians as long as strict regulations are followed.
It is understood that any decision will be announced by Prime Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill in the Assembly Chamber.
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