A bus company in Derry, which had advertised a shopping trip to Dundrum Shopping Centre, has said it will now not go ahead.

GD Tours had offered a "relaxing day to the biggest shopping centre in Ireland" on 5 December at a cost of £25 per person.

Northern Ireland is set to impose a strict two week "circuit breaker" lockdown from tomorrow.

Non-essential retail, which was allowed to stay open during current restrictions introduced last month, will close at that time.

The Stormont Executive eased restrictions last week to allow cafés, coffee shops and hairdressers to reopen, but they will shut again from tomorrow, although takeaway services can continue.

The measures are close to the full lockdown introduced in Northern Ireland in response to the outbreak of the pandemic in March.

In a post on its Facebook page, GD Tours said that because of the new measures in Northern Ireland and with restrictions expected to ease in the Republic next week, it was offering people a chance to travel to Dublin to shop.

However, in another post today, the company said the trip would not be going ahead "as after double checking travel restriction (sic) it's not possible at this time".

Damian Cassidy of GD Tours said he had planned the trip some time ago and had originally scheduled it for 21 November, but this had to be cancelled following the introduction of restrictions on both sides of the border. 

He said that with the new restrictions coming into force in Northern Ireland, people had phoned him asking if the trip would be rescheduled and he decided to plan it for 5 December. 

Speaking on RTÉ's Liveline, Mr Cassidy said he had run similar shopping trips to Dublin before the pandemic, which he said were very popular. 

He said he had only put the Dundrum booking on Facebook last night, so had not sold too many tickets, before he had to cancel it. 

Mr Cassidy said he was not aware that Covid-19 restrictions in the Republic, where people cannot travel outside their own county except for essential journeys, would be still in force after next Wednesday. 

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In a statement, Dundrum Shopping Centre said it took the health and safety of its staff and customers very seriously.

It added: "Trips such as the one referenced are currently not in line with Government guidance, nor are they affiliated with the centre.

"We look forward to welcoming customers back to the centre, and all visits must be in-line with Government guidance. We ask that all visitors are responsible and consider others when visiting."

A further eight people with Covid-19 have died in Northern Ireland, the Department of Health has said.

The death toll recorded by the department now stands at 962.

There were also another 442 confirmed cases of the virus recorded in the last 24-hour reporting period.

A total of 51,118 people have now tested positive for Covid-19 in Northern Ireland since the pandemic began.

The North's Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael McBride said the number of cases had seen a gradual downward trend and the tally of Covid-19 admissions to hospital was also declining, but hospitals were still under "extreme" pressure.

The reproductive rate of the virus stands at about one.

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