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Further 320 Covid cases in NI as hospitality boss says 11pm curfew will ‘lead to more anti-social behaviour’

A further 320 cases of Covid-19 have been reported in the last 24 hours, according to the Department of Health.

It brings the seven day total to 1,702 and the overall number up to 11,269.

In the Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough there have been 119 cases in the last week with 184 in the Newry, Mourne and Down district.

There have been no further deaths reported in that time, however, there have been an increase in hospital admissions through Covid, with 59, eight of whom are now in intensive care.

Meanwhile, the Northern Ireland Hotels Federation CEO, Janice Gault, said the 11pm will create more problems.

“We appreciate the concern about the rise in infection and the sentiment around the introduction of such a measure,” she said.

“However, as seen in other destinations, Liverpool and Manchester in particular, such a measure can in effect create a much greater issue.

“The curfew in these cities has resulted in gatherings in ways that are not easy to police, and instances of anti-social behaviour, with alcohol consumption in unregulated and unlicensed places.

“The First Minister has announced that hotels along with other elements of the hospitality sector will now close at 11.00pm with last orders for both food and drink at 10.30pm.

“The Federation has expressed its concerns about the effect the introduction of this measure will have on an already precarious situation.

“As an industry, we have outlined how severely this will affect trading and impact on the viability of businesses. There are limited business opportunities for the sector and this will make the hotel stay less attractive.”

Ms Gault said the Federation believes this measure may lead to more anti-social behaviour and “the fact that off licences remain open to 11pm may not address or mitigate the continuing issue of house parties which have been identified as a major factor in the spread of the pandemic”.

“As an industry, we remain committed to playing our part in the suppression of the virus, as well as the health and well-being of staff and guests,” she added.

“The hotel sector is keen to support the local economy and play our part in the recovery process. These measures present another business impediment in what remains a very challenging situation.”

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