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Police confirm 51 £1,000 fines for failing to isolate as Health Minister gives stark New Year warning

'We must all redouble our efforts to push down infection rates. That does not mean some people must make sacrifices and restrict their lives while others do not'

Covid police

Over 50 people in Northern Ireland to date have been slapped with £1,000 fines by PSNI enforcing regulations requiring individuals to isolate.

Four of the total of 51 penalties were issued in the Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council area, while there were eight within the Newry, Mourne and Down Distict.

Figures released by the PSNI cover the period from March right through until 9am today (Tuesday).

They reveal a total of 2,101 penalty notices issued Northern Ireland-wide for breaches of regulations imposed by the Executive. And there were a further 1,419 penalty notices when legislation was updated to dictate fines starting at £200 should be used.

There were 926 prohibition notices issued in relation to gatherings; 166 were for licensed premises and 766 for failing to restrict gatherings in private dwellings.

Again in relation to more recently and stricter penalties, a total of 34 penalty notices were issued to businesses or premises where fines start at £1,000 and can increase up to £10,000. Four of these were in the ABC Council area and five in Newry, Mourne and Down.

In all, 1765 community resolution notices were imposed where advice has been offered.

Police have also confirmed that, as of 9am, on Tuesday, a total of 398 police officers and staff are absent due to Covid-19. Of these, 314 are described as self-isolating.

Tuesday’s update came as Health Minister Robin Swann issued a stark warning to everyone to keep to restrictions over the New Year period.

It follows a “significant rise” in positive cases – a total of 1,566 in the past 24 hours – particularly in those aged 20-39.

The Minister said: “We are now familiar with the additional restrictions which came into effect on Boxing Day.  Whilst it is challenging, the new restrictions are essential if we are to drive down the positive cases in Northern Ireland.

“We continue to see large numbers of positive cases and deaths on a daily basis and we need a collective effort if we are to turn the tide against this virus.

“It is well known that Covid-19 poses a significant threat to our elderly population but it can affect anyone and can be transmitted by everyone.”

On 29 November 20-39 year olds accounted for 27.5% of positive cases.  Today that figure is 41.5%.

The Minister said: “The rise in this age group may be linked to behaviour and although young adults may think they are immune to Covid-19, their relatives and loved ones are not.

“We must all redouble our efforts to push down infection rates. That does not mean some people must make sacrifices and restrict their lives while others do not.

“We can all do this by reducing our contacts and staying at home. If you do have to go out, wear a face covering and wash your hands regularly.  Do not be that person who brings Covid-19 home in 2021.

“Our health service is going to be under severe pressure over the next few weeks, please do not add further to that.”

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