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Three further Covid-related deaths in NI as support package announced for under pressure businesses

Church Street Portadown
Portadown town centre

There have been three further Covid-related deaths reported by the Department of Health today (Monday).

All three of these occurred in the last 24 hours – according to the official dashboard – which has the overall total now at 936.

There have been no further deaths in the Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon borough, where the total number of lives lost to date remains at 103. There has been one further death in the Newry, Mourne and Down district, where the total now stands at 58.

There were a further 280 cases reported in that timeframe, with 24 in Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon and a further 19 in Newry, Mourne and Down.

A total of 1,726 individuals were tested.

There are 438 people now in hospital – that’s 13 more than Sunday – as a result of the virus, 37 of whom are in intensive care units – three less than yesterday. There are currently 31 ICU beds available in NI – two more than yesterday.

Sixty patients are in Craigavon today – down one. To date, 571 patients have been discharged from the Co. Armagh hospital.

There are 10 Covid patients in Daisy Hill, with 14 in Lurgan Hospital.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister, Conor Murphy has today announced a £300million support package including over £200million for businesses and £98million of Covid-19 funding to support the most vulnerable.

Making the announcement, Mr Murphy said: “Our businesses are facing huge challenges and are under immense pressure.

“Today we’ve agreed a significant business support package worth £213million.

“This includes £95million for a High Street Voucher Scheme for a pre-paid card for use on the high street.

“£55million to extend the Localised Restrictions Support Scheme to include non-essential retail, leisure, and entertainment businesses now forced to close.

“£20million to support company directors who have been without support up until now.

“£20million to extend the 12 month rate holiday to the manufacturing sector.

“£10.6million to support 1,000 wet pubs which are experiencing additional financial hardship, £5million to top-up the Tourism and Hospitality Scheme, £4.1million for Bed and Breakfast which previously missed out on business support because they pay domestic rates and £3million to help local businesses grow their online sales.”

The Minister continued: “In addition to this £213million for business and recognising Covid will continue to be with us for the months to come, the Executive has also agreed to hold £150million centrally for longer-term support on business rates. I hope to be able to provide an update on this in the very near future.”

The Executive today also agreed to provide £98million to support education, councils, sport and protect the vulnerable. Outlining these allocations, Conor Murphy said: “£44.3million is being provided to fund a one-off £200 heating payment for those with disabilities who are on higher disability benefits and older people in receipt of pension credit.

“£26.4million is being allocated to support schools. This includes vital funding to ensure families of young people who are entitled to Free School Meals will receive food grants during school holidays.

“I am allocating a further £5million to support charities through the rest of the financial year.

“As the Social Enterprise Support Fund was oversubscribed, a further £2.25million is now being provided to ensure grants can be paid to all eligible applicants.”

The Minister added: “I am also making a further £10million available to support sporting organisations, given the impact the restrictions are having on the sector, as well as an additional £10million to local councils to ensure they can continue to deliver vital services.

“The Executive does not underestimate the extreme pressures that our businesses and people are facing and this package signals our continued determination to support them.”

£27.5million is also being allocated to the Department for Infrastructure to address the significant impact and loss of income Covid is having on the Department and its arm’s length bodies to ensure service delivery can be maintained.

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