Six further people with coronavirus have died in Northern Ireland, taking the death toll in the region to 21.

With 86 new cases of the infection reported today, the number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 stands at 410.

The latest figures were reported by the Public Health Agency as the PSNI warned they would be targeting tourist sites and visitor locations to ensure compliance with new social-distancing regulations.

People who repeatedly fail to disregard officer requests to disperse could face fines up to £960 under new emergency regulations agreed by the Stormont Executive.

The measures, which came into force at 11pm last night, also provide for fines up to £5,000 for businesses not adhering to the new rules around closures and implementation of social-distancing practices.

Stormont Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots said the executive had the ability to increase that fine to £100,000 for gross breaches.

Northern Ireland was the last part of the UK to develop regulations flowing from new powers secured through legislation passed at Westminster earlier in the week.

Around 80% of cases of Covid-19 will be a mild to moderate illness, close to 14% have severe disease and around 6% are critical.

Generally, you need to be 15 minutes or more in the vicinity of an infected person, within 1-2 metres, to be considered at-risk or a close contact.

As of yesterday, there was 36 deaths from the virus in the Republic of Ireland and 294 new cases were announced, bringing the total number of cases in the Rupublic to 2,415.


Read more: Pandemic is a reminder we are all in this together, writes Tommie Gorman


The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020 give the authorities the power to close certain premises and prohibit anyone from leaving home without a reasonable excuse.

They include a list of some of the business premises that should close during the current clampdown on public life, and which can continue operating as an essential service.

The manufacturing sector is not covered by the list. A new Stormont forum will determine which manufacturing companies provide an essential service.

Workplaces that remain open during the emergency must comply with strict rules on social distancing.

Police Service of Northern Ireland Chief Constable Simon Byrne set out the police's approach to using the new enforcement powers on coronavirus restrictions today.

He said officers would employ a staged four-phase approach of engage, explain, encourage and enforce.

Mr Byrne said they would only use enforcement when "absolutely necessary".

"Each and every one of us has a personal responsibility to follow the NI Executive regulations and do everything we can to stop the spread of Covid-19," he said.

"Officers will apply their discretion and will ask questions to establish individual circumstances. We will instruct people to return home if they do not have a reasonable excuse to be out of their house."

Mr Byrne said officers would be targeting popular tourism locations and visitor spots to ensure people were not gathering.

He said the public would see a change of "police style and approach" at such places.

"We have no desire to use the formal emergency policing powers now available but it is right that we can, if necessary, enforce against those who disregard the measures and put their own health and the health of other people at risk," he added.

"The vast majority of the public are following the regulations and I thank you for your support as we deal with this significant challenge. To others who are ignoring the directions, the Police Service message is simple, stay at home."