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Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

  1. Until next time...

    Some painted stones laid in the grounds of the Downshire Estate in Downpatrick

    Thanks for following our live page throughout the day - that's all from us for now, but we'll be back again with all the latest from 7.30am tomorrow.

    Until then have a good evening.

  2. Today's key developments

    It's been another busy day as Northern Ireland continues to ease its way out of lockdown restrictions.

    Here's a round-up of Tuesday's latest:

    • Senior Sinn Féin politicians are criticised after attending the funeral of veteran republican Bobby Storey
    • New guidance for hospital and care home visitors will come into effect next Monday (6 July), allowing visitors wearing face coverings
    • Birth partners will be allowed to accompany pregnant women to scans and for the duration of labour and to visit antenatal and postnatal wards
    • Regional lockdowns, like the one currently imposed in Leicester to manage Covid-19 are being considered by the Northern Ireland Executive to deal with clusters or regional outbreaks
    • There were no further Covid-related deaths in Northern Ireland in the last 24 hours
    • Three new cases of the coronavirus were confirmed in Northern Ireland
    • The UK hospital toll of coronavirus-linked deaths rises by 43 to a total of 33,255
  3. Belfast Zoo 'won't be the same' when it reopens this weekend

    Some late news to bring you just before we close today's live page - Belfast Zoo is set to reopen for the first time since March this Sunday.

    Manager Alyn Cairns said no more than 1,000 people will be allowed in on each day.

    The public will also have to book by telephone in advance of a visit.

    Mr Cairns said the zoo had been in contact with Dublin Zoo in the Republic of Ireland and Auckland Zoo in New Zealand ahead of reopening and that it will be a different experience compared to before 14 March.

    Maned wolf pup

    "It will be more about an outdoor experience for the public, coming along to Belfast Zoo's outdoor trek.

    "The zoo is not going to be the same as it was before Covid."

    Mr Cairns also said there had been some "fantastic" new additions to the animal population at the Antrim Road site.

    "We had some fantastic births during lockdown, the newest additions are two Scottish wildcat kittens, a baby giraffe which is only three weeks old and a maned wolf pup."

    Read more here.

  4. 'No frontline healthcare workers have died with Covid-19' - Swann

    A final line from today's Stormont's briefing from Health Minister Robin Swann and Chief Medical Officer Michael McBride.

    "We have not lost any frontline healthcare workers to date from what we can ascertain," he tells the Stormont briefing, following a question about healthcare staff being infected and possibly dying.

    Shortly after, Tuesday's briefing came to an end.

  5. 'Hard to social distance in large crowds' - chief medical officer on Bobby Storey funeral

    Asked about pictures from the funeral of republican Bobby Storey on Tuesday, the chief medical officer says the guidelines over how many people can gather together outside are there to save lives, but it is not appropriate for him to talk about their enforcement.

    "I didn't see the pictures myself but clearly where we have large numbers of people coming together in close proximity and indeed if there isn't appropriate social distancing then that does increase risk of transmission," he says.

    Dr McBride says it can often be very diffiicult for large numbers to socially distance, where even outdoor space can be confined

    "Also we need to bear in mind there can be certain behavioural characteristics which quite understandably pertain to events like funerals and weddings where people feel the need to express emotion," he says.

    He adds it would take two to three weeks to see if such large gatherings had caused an increase in infections.

  6. NI regional lockdowns under consideration

    Regional lockdowns, like the one currently imposed in Leicester to manage Covid-19 are being considered by the Northern Ireland Executive, the health minister says.

    Robin Swann says responding to clusters and regional outbreaks was essential going forward.

    "It is something we are looking at. If it is about closing down particular areas and particular workplaces that is something we will have to do as we enter the next phase of managing Covid-19."

  7. 'Don't be fooled, virus has not gone away'

    Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael McBride says that some people may think that the worst of the pandemic is over.

    "Don't be fooled, it's not," he tells the daily Stormont briefing.

    "Whilst thankfully the number of new infections may be low, and it may look like the virus is contained, it hasn't gone away.

    "The virus doesn't read our plans, it doesn't read our guidance and despite our best efforts we will see clusters and local outbreaks in the weeks and months ahead."

    Dr Michael McBride

    He adds: "This is something we may have to live with for some time to come, we must continue to mitigate against the impact of the infection and prevent increased community transmission while preparing for a future wave or waves and rebuilding our health and social care system."

    He adds: "Hand hygiene is the singularly most effective way of preventing the spread of the virus.

    "Please follow the guidance, stay safe and save lives."

  8. 'No one is above the guidance' - Swann concerned over Bobby Storey funeral

    The health minister said he was concerned with "what he saw" at the funeral of Bobby Storey on Tuesday.

    Mr Swann says he believes that there has been a breach in Covid-19 guidelines.

    "We cannot afford any part of Northern Ireland to become another Leicester," he adds.

    "There is no person or position or point of privilege that is above the guidance we had laid down, no one is immune from it.

    "I do hope what we saw today does not undermine the message in Northern Ireland that has got us to where we are today."

    Robin Swann

    Mr Swann says he understood the PSNI would investigate any potential breaches of the guidelines.

    "The regulations we have put in place are there to save lives," he says.

    He adds that he "seriously hoped this is not the Dominic Cummings effect" in Northern Ireland.

    "Please don't let this weaken your resolve, two wrongs do not make a right," he says.

    "I ask people to keep with what they have been doing because it has saved lives."

  9. People 'will be anxious about next steps'

    Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael McBride says he understands there will be huge anxiety about the next steps and coming out of lockdown.

    "For many it will be concerns about returning to work where its not possible for them to work from home; for others it will be time lost from education or training and for some it will be concerns about their future livliehood.

    "The full impact that the virus has had will not be realised for some consdiuerable time to come."

    dr Michael McBride

    He urges anyone who has been shielding or living in supported living accommodation to respond to a survey about their experiences.

    "It's crucially important that we learn from your experience over the recent weeks and months so that we can plan for any need to put in place arrangements to again protect those who are most vulnerable in society as we move into autumn and winter."

  10. BreakingExpectant fathers to be allowed to attend baby appointments

    New guidance for hospital and care home visitors will come into effect next Monday (6 July), the health minister confirms.

    Robin Swann says he was aware of families yearning to see loved one in hospitals and care homes.

    Speaking at today's daily briefing, he said there would be new guidance for visitors, who he said would be required to wear face coverings.

    One visitor will be allowed to visit per patient at any one time, while birth partners will be allowed to accompany pregnant women to scans and for the duration of labour and to visit ante-natal and postnatal wards.

    Mr Swann says the reduction in deaths linked to coronavirus was "hugely encouraging" but warned the virus "remains a serious threat".

    "I cannot stress enough the dangers that remain," he said.

    "Despite what people may say or people may do, we are through the first peak but we are by no means through the virus."

  11. Robin Swann begins Stormont briefing

    The health minister starts the briefing by paying tribute to teenager Noah Donohoe - you can watch live via the play button at the top of this page.

  12. Stormont briefing due shortly

    The briefing is due to start at 16:10 BST, and it will be Health Minister Robin Swann and Chief Medical Officer Michael McBride at the podiums.

    You can watch it by clicking on the play button at the top of this page.

    NI Executive Office briefing poster
  13. Stormont finds cash to fund school meals over summer

    John Campbell

    BBC News NI Economics and Business Editor

    School dinner

    A £12m free school meals scheme for the summer holidays will go ahead after the money was found from existing Stormont budgets.

    The money has been reallocated to the scheme as part of a budgeting exercise known as a monitoring round.

    Health got the largest reallocation with about £90m to be spent on elective care and mental health services.

    Three business support grant schemes have been underspent by £53m.

    Those funds will be held by the executive until ministers agree what the next stage of business support should be.

    That holds out the prospect that some business and sectors who have so far received little help could get a grant.

    However it is likely to fuel criticism that the most recent scheme, for hardship grants was too difficult to access.

    Other allocations include £35.5m for infrastructure to include £20m for Translink, £10m for other transport lost income and £5.5m for NI Water.

  14. League of Ireland season to resume on 31 July

    Derry City

    The 2020 League of Ireland season will resume on 31 July following a vote by clubs on Tuesday.

    The league will keep its existing format with each team playing 18 matches in total followed by a promotion and relegation play-off.

    Clubs in favour of maintaining the format narrowly won the vote over those who were against two teams suffering the drop at the end of an 18-game season.

    Fixture dates are yet to be announced.

    Read more on this story BBC Sport NI website.

  15. Sinn Féin leadership criticised over funeral and Covid regulations

    Bobby Storey funeral
    Image caption: Sinn Féin's Mary Lou McDonald, Gerry Adams and Michelle O'Neill attended the funeral

    Senior Sinn Féin politicians have been criticised after attending the funeral of veteran republican Bobby Storey.

    The funeral in west Belfast on Tuesday attracted hundreds of mourners, despite coronavirus regulations stating a maximum of 30 people are allowed to gather together outdoors.

    Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill and Finance Minister Conor Murphy were among those present.

    UUP MLA Doug Beattie said it undermined the credibility of the executive.

    There have been a number of events which have been criticised for attracting crowds during the Covid-19 pandemic.

    In May, a senior police officer said there had been social-distancing breaches at funerals in both the unionist and nationalist communities.

    Earlier in June, protestors at Black Lives Matter rallies in Belfast and Londonderry were fined, while several hundred people took part in a "save our statues" rally at Belfast City Hall.

    Read full story here.

    Bobbt Storey funeral
  16. 'No spike in cases after mass gatherings - did we get lucky?'

    Louise Cullen

    BBC News NI

    Health Minister Robin Swann has described it as “fortunate” there was not an increased number of outbreaks, following gatherings in beauty spots during the good weather earlier this month.

    Speaking at the Stormont health committee, North Down MLA Alex Easton asked Mr Swann "did we get lucky” in that there seemed to be no spike following gatherings at beaches in the last month and at funerals?

    Mr Swann said he wasn’t sure where luck and medical science fit together, but said there had been an increased number of positive tests in the Ards and North Down council area, although the cases were not linked as a cluster.

    Ballyholme beach

    Later in the sitting, another MLA for North Down, Alan Chambers of the Ulster Unionist Party, said he had spoken to the Public Health Agency after the Ards North Down area recorded “six or seven new cases” at a time when other council areas were recording none.

    Mr Chambers said the agency had not been overly concerned, and that it certainly wasn’t a cluster.

    Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael McBride said the difference between a cluster and an outbreak lay largely in numbers – a cluster would be rapidly identified, while an outbreak would be in large numbers and connected geographically or by environment.

    To date, there have not been any significant outbreaks “but they will happen", he added.

  17. Holiday warning after rise in Republic of Ireland cases

    A man wearing a face mask disinfects a sunbed at Pollina Resort, on northern coast of Sicily,

    The Republic of Ireland's chief medical officer has warned about a "worrying trend" of rising Covid-19 cases in Ireland, as well as "some new clusters".

    Dr Holohan said a new cluster in the north west was travel-related and originated in Iraq.

    He urged people who have made bookings to travel abroad for holidays not to go ahead with that booking rather than risk picking up Covid-19 or bringing it back to their community.

    He said officials were "genuinely very concerned" about the increasing "role and risk of travel", Irish broadcaster RTÉ reports.

    No deaths were recorded in the Republic of Ireland on Monday and the total number of deaths there stands at 1,735.

    Twenty-four new cases of coronavirus have been confirmed, bringing the total of confirmed cases to 25,462.

  18. 'The virus doesn't spread itself, we spread it'

    Louise Cullen

    BBC News NI

    Chief Medical Officer Michael McBride said the R number is less reliable than the increasingly important number of new cases as community transmission falls.

    The R number is, of course, the number of people that one infected person will pass the virus on to, on average.

    Speaking at the Stormont health committee, Dr McBride has urged people to keep adhering to good hand and respiratory hygiene – and where social distancing isn’t possible, to heed the executive’s “very strong” advice and wear face coverings.

    “The virus doesn’t spread itself, we spread it,” he said.

    “There is no doubt we will see localised clusters and we will see outbreaks.”

    Dr Michael McBride
  19. All care home residents and staff in NI offered a Covid-19 test

    Louise Cullen

    BBC News NI

    Health Minister Robin Swann says every care home resident and staff member in Northern Ireland has now been offered coronavirus testing - although not all have taken up the opportunity.

    He told the Stormont health committee there were still two homes remaining to be tested.

    12,611 care home residents have been tested for Covid-19, with 96 testing positive.

    17,945 care home staff have been tested, with 84 receiving positive results.

    Chief Medical Officer Michael McBride also told the committee testing in care homes would be completed today.

    That’s in line with the end of June target the Department of Health set last month.

    Coronavirus testing kit
  20. 'Fragile progress' in battle against Covid-19

    Louise Cullen

    BBC News NI

    Health Minister Robin Swann says “fragile progress” has been made in the fight against Covid-19 in Northern Ireland.

    He told a meeting of the health committee at Stormont that he believed there were no patients with Covid-19 in Intensive care wards in Northern Ireland “for a third day” in a row.

    Robin Swann

    He also said guidance on hospital and care/nursing/residential home visiting would be signed off later today or early tomorrow.

    It will also cover guidance on expectant mothers being accompanied to ante-natal appointments and in the labour ward/delivery suite.