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Live Reporting

Damien Edgar, Michael McBride, Niall Glynn, Amy Stewart, Leanna Byrne, Joe Kearney, Fiona Murray and David Wilson

All times stated are UK

  1. Goodnight

    That's all from us on the BBC News NI live page for today.

    We'll be back again tomorrow morning from 07:00 BST to keep you across all the latest developments.

    We'll leave you tonight with another look at 19-year-old Ryan's excellent dance moves.

    Keep dancing at home, keep your distance and keep washing those hands.

    View more on twitter
  2. Progress on SSE Arena Covid-19 test centre

    BBC NI Health Correspondent Marie-Louise Connolly tweets:

    Plans for a drive-through Covid-19 test centre are well under way.

    The test centre will be located at Belfast's SSE Arena.

    Testing healthcare staff will be a priority.

    View more on twitter
  3. Universal credit claims soar to almost a million


    Nearly a million people have applied for universal credit benefits in the past fortnight as the coronavirus pandemic has worsened.

    The Department for Work and Pensions said 950,000 successful applications for the payment were made between 16 March, when people were advised to work from home, and the end of the month.

    The department would normally expect 100,000 claims in a two week period.

    Officials said they were working "flat out" to help people get support.

    Read more

    *It is not yet known if these figures include applications from people living in Northern Ireland.

    View more on twitter
  4. Changes at Craigavon hospital ED

    The Southern Health Trust is reorganising its emergency department at Craigavon Area Hospital.

    The ED has been split in two as the hospital prepares for the expected surge in coronavirus cases.

    Patients with the symptoms of the virus will be seen in a part devoted to respiratory problems, while all others will go the non-respiratory section.

    View more on twitter
  5. Sinn Féin leader still isolating

    Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has said she is "still under the weather" and will not be attending the Dáil (Irish Parliament) sitting tomorrow.

    View more on twitter
  6. And in response to some of those concerns...

    Public Health NI has issued Covid-19 guidance to those in the Northern Ireland deaf community who use British and Irish Sign Language.

    Concerns were raised by some in the deaf community that recommended sources of information about Covid-19 were not available to them.

    View more on twitter
  7. Deaf community concerned over Covid-19 information

    Louise Cullen

    BBC News NI

    Members of the deaf community say they are concerned that some recommended sources of information about Covid-19 are not available to them.

    Northern Ireland was given access to the NHS 111 helpline at the end of February.


    In the rest of the UK, the service is accompanied by an online sign language relay service, so deaf people can use the number.

    But that is not yet available in Northern Ireland.

    A Department of Health spokeswoman said they were aware sign language users have had difficulties using the service.

    "We are working with the Department for Communities on a service for the deaf community to access health and social care services," she added.

  8. M&S store staff get bonus for coming into work

    Simon Read

    Business Reporter

    Hard-pressed supermarket workers are being handed thank-you bonuses by bosses.

    Marks & Spencer is the latest chain to reward workers with an extra 15% in their pay packet.

    marks and spencer

    Aldi, Sainsbury's and Tesco have already promised staff an extra 10%, while Asda will give its staff an extra week's pay in June, which works out as a 25% bonus for the month.

    Bosses say they are rewarding "dedication and commitment" and "outstanding work".

    Read more here.

  9. Restrictions reminder

    • Only go outside for food, health reasons or work (but only if you cannot work from home)
    • If you go out, stay 2 metres (6ft) away from other people at all times
    • Wash your hands as soon as you get home
    View more on twitter
  10. £50m emergency aid for heritage projects

    The National Lottery Heritage Fund is directing £50m in emergency aid towards projects facing uncertainty because of the crisis.

    Organisations that have received money in the past or are a current grantee will be able to access grants between £3,000 and £50,000.

    The Heritage Emergency Fund will aim to alleviate concerns from over 1250 projects about long term viability due to the pandemic.

    Sites like museums, libraries, maritime and industrial heritage projects like the HMS Caroline, along with archives, parks and gardens will all be eligible for emergency grant aid.

    Applications open tomorrow with funding available over the next three to six months.

    HMS Caroline
  11. Football chief asks executive to help clubs

    The Chief Executive of the Irish FA has called on the executive to offer financial support to football clubs.

    Clubs are not currently eligible for the £10,000 coronavirus support grant that has already been paid to around 7,000 businesses.

    All local football has been suspended until at least 30 April.

    Read more

    View more on twitter
  12. Teachers call for guidance

    Some teachers who are looking after the children of key workers have asked for clarity on how to observe public health guidance.

    Jacquie White from the Ulster Teachers' Union called on the Department of Education to release a safety strategy it is working on as soon as possible.

    She wants advice on disinfection of classrooms, pupil-teacher ratios and also whether teachers will need to be tested.

    Ms White said: "There have been calls for teachers to have full PPE, like care workers, and if this is deemed necessary then we must have it, but if we employ these other measures will we need PPE to the same extent?

    “At the moment there is too much uncertainty and no formalised guidelines."

  13. Baby joy for Paralympian Gallagher

    Some much-needed happier news - Paralympic gold medalist Kelly Gallagher says she's delighted after giving birth to baby daughter Brigid Mary last week.

    "We were so anxious with all the coronavirus going on around the place. It's an uncertain time anyhow when it's your first pregnancy," said Gallagher.

    "But it was a lovely experience, even if it wasn't the experience we were initially expecting."

    Gallagher won gold in the skiing at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games and has won multiple World Championship medals.

    More on this story here

    Kelly Gallagher with her new born daughter
  14. More detail on ventilators

    Northern Ireland has 165 ventilators available and Health Minister Robin Swann told BBC Newsline that 22 were currently in use for Covid-19 patients.

    Modelling released today shows 180 ventilators could be needed when the virus peaks.

    Earlier, Chief Medical Officer Michael McBride said there was a further batch of the machines expected from a UK allocation, while more had been ordered from a company in Galway.

    For patients with the worst effects of the infection, a ventilator offers the best chance of survival.

    Nurse working a ventilator in intensive care
  15. A fifth of smaller UK firms 'will run out of cash'

    Andy Verity

    BBC Economics correspondent

    Nearly a fifth of all small and medium-sized businesses in the UK are unlikely to get the cash they need to survive the next four weeks, in spite of unprecedented government support.

    That's according to research from a network of accountants which suggests between 800,000 and one million firms nationwide may soon have to close.


    Many firms have told the BBC that banks have refused them emergency loans.

    More on this story here.

  16. Couple's daughter speaks of her grief

    The daughter of a west Belfast couple who died at the weekend after contracting the coronavirus has spoken of her grief.

    Christopher Vallely, who was known as Arty, and his wife, Isobel, died within hours of each other at the Mater Hospital in Belfast.

    Isobel and Christopher Vallely

    Their daughter, Fiona, said: "We held their hands and were hoping that they could hear us and knew that we were there.

    "We got to say, at least goodbye which we know a lot of families haven’t had that chance."

    Isobel and Christopher Vallely

    Fiona's mother will be buried, but her father is to be cremated and that will have to take place without mourners present.

    "We can’t even do the normal you know in Ireland, the wake, and my dad would have loved a big celebration, playing Elvis," she added.

    "We’re just in our houses just trying to stay here, safely, it’s hard enough losing both your parents so close together, but then you can’t do the normal process so it is very, very hard."

  17. Minister 'working on measures' for taxi drivers

    The infrastructure minister says she has been working to help taxi drivers on issues around licensing and registration as delivery drivers.

    Nichola Mallon has written an open letter to taxi drivers, saying she is working with the Department for Communities to allow drivers to work on deliveries.

    Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon

    Mrs Mallon also said she would grant an extension to licences that are about to expire for taxi drivers.

    The minister said guidance on social distancing for taxi firms is also being worked on and will be provided “as quickly as possible”.

  18. Moy Park responds to union claims over pay

    Moy Park has responded to a demand from the Unite trade union that workers who are self-isolating should receive full pay for the duration of their absence.

    Earlier today, Unite said it had given management a week to respond to its request but claimed it had received "no response".

    Regional officer Sean McKeever said that "it is surely not too much to ask that workers who are self-isolating and those shielding due to their vulnerable status would not also have to face a financial crisis in this worrying time".

    Moy Park

    Moy Park responded by saying it saw "our team as food heroes, who are working harder than ever to keep food production moving at this critical time".

    The firm said it had "measures in place to protect all team members, including those who are extremely vulnerable and front-line workers".

    "Those colleagues who have been contacted by the NHS to stay at home due to their medical condition will receive a minimum of 80% of their basic contractual pay while they shield and care for themselves," Moy Park added in a statement.

  19. Two thirds of people social distancing, says Swann

    The Health Minister Robin Swann told BBC Newsline that evidence shows an estimated two thirds of people are observing the rules over social distancing.

    Mr Swann told the programme that an estimated 66% are complying with social distancing measures in Northern Ireland, according to shared data from across the UK and Ireland.

    "Your actions today, tomorrow and your actions over the next few days can have a direct impact on the number of people that could actually die from Covid-19," Mr Swann told the programme.

    Robin Swann