Tighter restrictions welcome and should apply immediately, says Bradshaw

Alliance Health spokesperson Paula Bradshaw MLA has welcomed moves by the Executive to tighten restrictions on social gatherings, but said they must apply immediately and more work should be done to ensure staff safety in food processing plants.

The South Belfast MLA was speaking after Health Minister Robin Swann outlined new restrictions, with outdoor gatherings being reduced from 30 people to 15, and indoor gatherings in private going from 10 to six people, from two households.

“I welcome the Health Minister’s proposal, backed by the Executive, to reduce numbers attending outdoor and, particularly indoor gatherings. These will both help to limit transmission in an area where it is clearly occurring, and send a clear message caution must be our watchword,” she said.

“However, the real concern from today’s news is more than 35 cases can be associated with a single meat plant in Cullybackey. I have cautioned on countless occasions worker safety must not be compromised and the Public Health Agency itself had identified meat processing factories as particularly high risk. The fact this has happened in all our neighbouring jurisdictions only demonstrates how high that risk is. Further targeted intervention is needed to stop such outbreaks occurring.

“I would also urge clarity over when and how the tighter restrictions will apply. If we believe these tighter restrictions are vital to reducing transmission, there is no time to lose and they must apply immediately.

“I would also urge the public, as the Chief Medical Officer said, to maintain hand hygiene and social distancing, to wear face coverings in indoor public spaces, and to download the Stop Covid NI app for added protection.”