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Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

  1. Enjoy your evening

    That's it for our coverage of Northern Ireland's continuing battle against the coronavirus pandemic.

    We'll be back at 7:30 tomorrow morning with all the latest updates.

    Until then, enjoy your evening. We'll leave you with this picture of Hillsborough Castle taken by Hilary Robb.

  2. Today's key developments

    It's been a day when divisions have re-emerged in what had appeared to be a united executive.

    Here's a round-up of Thursday's key developments:

    • Michelle O'Neill will not step aside as deputy first minister "under any circumstances" following the funeral of Bobby Storey, Sinn Féin says
    • It comes after the other parties in the executive, including the DUP, called for her to resign
    • The wearing of face coverings on most buses, trains and ferries will be mandatory in Northern Ireland from 10 July
    • The Parades Commission has received more than 80 applications for marches to celebrate the Twelfth - mainly by bands - since the restrictions on outdoor gatherings were eased
    • There was one further Covid-19 linked death in Northern Ireland in the last 24 hours and seven more confirmed cases
    • There were 45 more coronavirus-linked deaths in the UK
    • Ireland's health minister says there has been a significant increase in the percentage of Covid-19 cases which have come from international travel
  3. 'A crisis for Sinn Féin, not the executive'

    The DUP's Sammy Wilson says the ball is now in Sinn Féin's court over the position of Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill after her attendance at the funeral of republican Bobby Storey.

    Mr Wilson says Sinn Féin had reacted "in their ususal arrogant way" but that the hurt from people in the community who hadn't been able to attend loved ones' funerals would "start to feed through" to the party.

    Sammy Wilson

    "I certainly would not allow this to become a crisis for the executive," he said.

    "Really it is a crisis for Sinn Féin and for their credibility and a test for whether they believe themselves to be above the law which they make or whether they believe themselves to be subject to the law.

    "What we have to do is keep the pressure on, not make this a one-day thing."

  4. PM's father Stanley Johnson criticised for lockdown trip to Greece

    stanley johnson

    Boris Johnson's father has been criticised for travelling to Greece during the coronavirus lockdown.

    Stanley Johnson shared a number of pictures on his Instagram account on Wednesday, showing him arriving in Athens and at an airport in a mask.

    He told the Daily Mailhe was in the country "on essential business" to ensure a property he rents out was "Covid-proof" before holidays restart.

    But the former Tory MEP has come under fire for breaking lockdown rules.

    Read more.

  5. Warning from fire service

    As businesses start to re-open, the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service is reminding owners that the temporary measures put in place must still meet rules on fire safety.

    View more on twitter
  6. Belfast bikes return as lockdown eases

    Belfast bikes are back in use once again after being removed from public service during lockdown.

    Belfast Lord Mayor Frank McCoubrey said he hoped a recent revival in cycling would continue with the return of the service.

    He added that it was "another sign of us slowly getting back to business as a city and beginning our recovery journey".

    View more on twitter
  7. Funeral guidelines may be approved next week

    Mark Devenport

    BBC News NI Political Editor

    New Draft Stormont Guidelines on funerals published by the BBC yesterday were not discussed at today’s meeting of the Executive.

    Stormont sources say the guidelines still require more work and may be approved next week.

    The draft guidelines would allow churches to set their own maximum attendance at a funeral, in line with social distancing.

    At Bobby Storey’s funeral mass at St Agnes’s in West Belfast it’s estimated around 120 mourners took their places inside the church.

    bobby storey funeral

    The Deputy First Minister yesterday told a Stormont Committee that Requiem Masses are now possible due to this week’s reopening of places of worship.

    However, guidance on religious services issued to faith leaders last week stipulated that it did not apply to weddings, baptisms or funerals.

    Until the new guidelines are approved, the current guidance remains in place.

    According to the official NI Direct Website, that guidance says: “The funeral should be private and only the following should be there, up to a maximum of 30 people (this figure does not include funeral directors or other people needed to officiate at the service, such as faith/ pastoral representatives, grave diggers and so on), including:

    • Members of the person’s household
    • Close family members
    • If the deceased has neither household nor family members in attendance, then it is possible for a modest number of friends to be there“
  8. BMA urges responsible drinking ahead of pubs opening

    Pubs are back from tomorrow and while many will be planning a visit for the first time in months, the British Medical Association (BMA) in Northern Ireland has asked people to be mindful and not go too hard.

    “We know everyone is excited about going out again, seeing friends and being able to socialise in a more normal way but the last thing the emergency departments across Northern Ireland need now is an influx of people on Friday and Saturday night who have consumed too much alcohol,” Dr Siobhan Quinn of the BMA says.

    pint of guinness

    Dr Quinn says there has been a marked decline in the number of “people presenting at weekends who had either drunk too much, taken drugs or had ended up in a physical fight where they sustained injuries needing treatment” during lockdown.

    "I would strongly urge people to drink responsibly when they do go out, have a good night but make sure it’s not one that ends up in an emergency department,” she adds.

    From Friday pubs and bars will be allowed to trade, but must serve food and operate on a table service basis.

    Those pubs that do not serve food will be allowed to sell alcohol outdoors.

  9. The music industry is 'being ignored'

    A Londonderry musician had said the music scene has been drastically impacted by coronavirus and many working within it are still unsure of when they will be allowed continue working again.

    Ryan Vail is one of many musicians who have signed an open letter calling for government intervention to help protect live music in the UK.

    They are asking for an extension to the furlough scheme for people working in the industry and the removal of VAT from ticket sales when music gigs can resume.


    Ryan Vail tells BBC Radio Foyle that the music industry was "one of the first industries to be hit" and will probably be the last to reopen.

    "There is no sign of anything opening and no sign of support and it's gotten a bit irritating waiting on word that doesn't ever seem to be coming," Mr Vail said.

    Mr Vail said it is not just musicians affected, but the many people who work behind the scenes to bring music into people's lives.

    In response, a spokeswoman for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said the government was "already providing unprecedented financial assistance which many music organisations and artists have taken advantage of".

  10. NI dentists to get more than three million PPE items

    Louise Cullen

    BBC News NI

    Dentists in Northern Ireland should be able to see more patients, when PPE (personal protective equipment) is delivered to practices next week.

    After meeting representatives of the British Dental Association today, Health Minister Robin Swan said the profession will receive more than three million individual items in the coming weeks.

    That, Mr Swann said, should allow them to see “considerably more” people, while ensuring staff and patients are fully protected.

    During the pandemic, dentists were able to provide advice and some face-to-face care in surgeries.

    Urgent cases requiring Aerosol Generating Procedures (AGPs), like drilling, were referred to one of the five urgent care centres around Northern Ireland.

    PPE supply

    Dentists are now in a phased process of returning to the provision of full routine and urgent care in surgeries.

    Mr Swann welcomed the role they played and said he recognised the potential of the Covid-19 restrictions to put the future of some dental service providers at risk.

    To help address that, the Financial Support Scheme will continue for another two months.

    It has already provided £12m in support payments to NI dentists, since it was established in March.

    Continuing financial support will be discussed by the department and the profession.

  11. Analysis: The wheels of government are still turning despite the crisis

    Enda McClafferty

    BBC News NI political correspondent

    A decision has finally been made to make face coverings compulsory on public transport from 10 July, despite all the political drama it shows that the wheels of government are still turning.

    Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon was keen to see face coverings introduced in line with Scotland and the Republic of Ireland and previously had pushed for ministers to legislate on the issue, which has now been given the green light.

    Wearing of face coverings will be mandatory on most bus, train and ferry services in Northern Ireland.

    Face coverings

    The wearing of face coverings on public transport will not apply to children under the age of 13 and there will also be exemptions for those with various medical conditions.

    Outdoor areas of a ferry where social distancing can be maintained will also be exempt from the requirements, along with school transport.

    There are still questions around how this will be enforced, but what is known is that the issue will go some way in solving the various issues that were raised around cross-border travel.

  12. 'Put other people first' urges infrastructure minister

    Nichola Mallon has said that face coverings on public transport "will work if we work together".

    In a tweet, the minister said the people of Northern Ireland have made "huge sacrifices" in the battle against coronavirus and asked people "to keep going".

    "Keep doing what we in Northern Ireland are good at and put other people first," Ms Mallon said.

    View more on twitter
  13. Mandatory face coverings confirmed

    The Department for Infrastructure has announced that coverings will become mandatory on public transport from 10 July.

    Passengers travelling on "most bus, train and ferry services in Northern Ireland will be required to wear a face covering" - it will also be a requirement at public transport stations.

    In a statement, the department said that a face covering is "a covering of any type which covers a person’s nose and mouth; it does not have to be a surgical face mask".

    There will be exemptions for those who are not able to wear a face covering for health and medical reasons and for children under the age of 13.

    Face mask

    Outdoor areas of a ferry where social distancing can be maintained will be exempt from the requirements, along with school transport.

    The executive has agreed that the cross-departmental group that has been established to consider face coverings will engage with the tour coach and taxi industry to explore extending the requirement to their vehicles.

    Making the announcement, Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon said "as restrictions on our movement are eased, the safety of passengers and staff remains my priority".

    "We need to remain vigilant and continue to play our part in controlling the virus to protect ourselves and others."

  14. Where are the cases?

    As we have just reported there have been seven new cases of coronavirus in NI.

    They were in the Belfast, Antrim and Newtownabbey, Mid-Ulster and Newry Mourne and Down council areas.

    There are no Covid-19 patients in ICUs in NI and it's the third day in a row of no hospital admissions across all trusts.

  15. BreakingOne new coronavirus-related death recorded in NI

    One coronavirus-related death has been reported by Northern Ireland’s Department of Health in the last 24 hours, meaning the death toll stands at 552.

    The department’s daily figures are mostly comprised of hospital deaths and where a patient had previously tested positive for the virus.

    The latest figures on the department’s dashboard show seven further confirmed positive case of the virus, with the total now standing at 5,768.

  16. Planned Emergency Services Memorial updated to include PPE

    A planned sculpture to celebrate emergency workers has been adapted to reflect the current coronavirus crisis.

    The medic on the six-figure Emergency Services Memorial will now be wearing PPE.

    It is set for central London in 2023 - provided the £3 million needed can be raised.

    Watch more on this story below.

    Video content

    Video caption: Emergency workers remembered in new statue
  17. 'This isn’t an orange and green issue' - UUP leader

    Along with the leaders of the DUP, SDLP, and Alliance, the UUP's Steve Aiken has reiterated his call for Michelle O'Neill to step aside.

    It follows her attendance at the funeral of senior republican Bobby Storey and potential breaches of coronavirus guidelines.

    "This isn’t normal Northern Ireland as usual… it isn’t even an orange and green issue," he tells Talkback.

    Mr Aiken noted that the funeral had happened in the context of a rise in cases in parts of England and the Republic of Ireland.

    Steve Aiken

    "I am saying to everyone, follow the rules, follow the guidelines, and that is why Michelle O’Neill needs to resign or really consider her position," he says.

    "She has to show a position of credibility, integrity, and authority - and if she’s been seen to be breaching the rules, how is everybody else expected to be following the rules?"

    Mr Aiken also commended the Orange Order for maintaining its position that large gatherings should not take place for Twelfth of July parades.

    "I am really scared that not only are we not out of it, but that we’re only getting to the worst part," he adds.

  18. Face coverings to be mandatory in Scottish shops


    The news that face coverings will be mandatory on Northern Ireland's buses and trains comes as Scotland ramps up its regulations.

    From 9 July, people will need to wear face coverings when entering Scottish shops.

    Non-essential shops have re-opened in Scotland and bars and restaurants are due to open up again later this month.

    The first minister said the 2m physical distancing rule would be eased for some premises when the country enters the next "phase" of its routemap on 9 July.

    And she said face coverings would be mandatory in shops from that date.

    Read more on this story here.

  19. Face masks 'to be compulsory on public transport' in NI

    Stormont sources are telling BBC News NI that the NI Executive has agreed to introduce the compulsory wearing of face coverings on public transport.

    It is understood the move will come into force on 10 July.

    Face coverings on public transport became mandatory in the Republic of Ireland on Monday and has been in place in England and Scotland for weeks.

  20. Analysis: Course of action against Sinn Féin unclear

    Mark Devenport

    BBC News NI Political Editor

    It is a crisis, but we are yet talking about Stormont falling - the DUP has said that they will not be bringing it down.

    They have demanded an apology, and the temporary stepping aside of Michelle O’Neill for attending Bobby Storey's funeral and potentially breaching guidelines.

    The Sinn Féin statement made it clear that she is not going to step aside under any circumstances.

    There will be a meeting a party leader’s forum, in which the other four party leaders might be telling Michelle O’Neill that she has broken these regulations, and calling for her to step aside.

    The funeral cortege for senior republican Bobby Storey in west Belfast

    In terms of anything further, I would be surprised if the PSNI would get into the heart of such politically difficult terrain by bringing charges against the likes of Michelle O’Neill and any others in the Sinn Féin leadership.

    In terms of the assembly process, we don’t even have a standards’ commissioner at the moment to examine whether she broke the assembly’s standards - because that was one of the positions allowed to go vacant during the three-year Stormont stand-off.