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PA Wire / Andrew Milligan
PA Wire / Andrew Milligan
Congregation in masks in church covid coronavirus St Andrews Cathedral Glasgow church Credit PA Wire Andrew Milligan.jpg
UK News

Churches to remain open as NI lockdown continues

by Tola Mbakwe

Churches in Northern Ireland will continue to open its doors to the public despite the circuit-breaker lockdown being extended. 

It was announced on Thursday that Northern Ireland's lockdown restrictions on hospitality businesses will be stretched for one week after a lengthy political wrangle exposed Stormont divisions.

Hair and beauty salons and premises without an alcohol licence like cafes and coffee shops can reopen next Friday, with hours restricted to 8pm.

Restaurants, pubs and hotels can start doing businesses again on 27th November.

Pubs and bars will be permitted to sell sealed off-sales from 20th November. 

Pastor Trevor Ramsey, President of the Association of Baptist Churches in Ireland told Premier he's saddened for the hospitality sector:
"The Executive here in Northern Ireland have been really quite divided on the way ahead," he said. 

"It's very confusing during this week and has been very stressful for the sector, because they really didn't know what was happening until basically yesterday afternoon.

"That's caused a lot of stress, anxiety amongst many of them. Because, obviously, if you own a cafe or a restaurant, and you were thinking you may open this weekend, there were certain plans you had to put in place, and those things didn't happen."

Pastor Ramsey added that he's glad the Stormont Executive has seen the value of places of worship remaining open. He commended the government for working well with faith communities during the pandemic:

"Right the way through this pandemic, they have been hosting meetings with church leaders and faith groups. We have been told over the last number of weeks that there are no plans in place at this moment to further restrict our church services. So they've been working with us and they really want to trust the churches to stay open and up function in a very sensible way safe way. 

"What they said to us on a number of occasions is 'as long as you keep the all the protocols and social distancing the hand sanitizer, we will work with you'."

The deaths of another 15 people with Covid-19 were announced on Thursday in Northern Ireland, along with 548 new confirmed cases of the virus.
 

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