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Covid-19: Six deaths and 4,000 new cases as hospitality payments extended to soft plays

Funky Monkeys business owner Bernard Mulholland with Cian Smith and Finance Minister Conor Murphy. Photo by William Cherry/Presseye

There have been six further Covid-related deaths reported in Northern Ireland in the last 24 hours.

The total number of deaths now stands at 3,136 – 16 of which occurred in the last seven days.

The ABC Borough accounts for 422 – up two – of those deaths. There have been 238 – up one – in the NMD district, while Mid Ulster accounts for 292 – also up one.

The ABC borough has recorded three deaths in the last seven days, while Newry, Mourne and Down has reported one. Mid Ulster have reported two in that time.

There have been a further 3,959 – up 854 – positive cases recorded in the last 24 hours, according to the Department of Health’s latest daily dashboard update.

There have been 24,878 positive cases in the last seven days.

There were 531 positive cases in Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon – the second highest in NI. There were 348 cases in Newry, Mourne and Down while Mid Ulster recorded 260. Belfast – the highest in NI – recorded 809 positive cases.

There are 382 – up 20 – patients in hospitals across Northern Ireland as a result of the virus, 15 – up one – of whom are in intensive care units.

A total of 270 Covid patients have been discharged in the last seven days while there have been 227 admissions during the same period.

Currently, there are 104 – up 13 – Covid patients in the Southern Trust area, 56 – up two – of whom are in Craigavon Area Hospital. There are 15 – down three – in Daisy Hill Hospital.

There are seven ICU beds available across Northern Ireland.

Hospital occupancy in Northern Ireland currently stands at 105% – up 3%.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister, Conor Murphy has extended the Omicron Hospitality Payment to include soft play businesses as well as inflatable and trampoline parks.

The move will see venues each receive a one-off £10,000 payment if they have a café on the premises.

Making the announcement during a visit to Funky Monkeys in Belfast, Minister Murphy said: “Food services are an important source of revenue for many leisure businesses such as soft play facilities and inflatable and trampoline parks. These venues saw reduced visitor numbers over the Christmas period due to Omicron and were impacted in the same way as other hospitality businesses. I am therefore extending the Omicron Hospitality Payment to provide them with support.”

Minister Murphy continued: “These businesses are an integral part of our communities. They provide a fun space for families and children to enjoy while making a vital contribution employing many people locally.

“My Department has supported them over the last two years with a rates holiday as well as Covid grants. And while business support is not within my Department’s remit, I am glad to once again step up to deliver financial assistance. I hope this additional £10,000 will help these businesses as we continue on the road to better days ahead.”

Land & Property Services will today email soft play, inflatable and trampoline parks that received payment under the Localised Restrictions Support Scheme (LRSS) to ask them to verify their details to enable the Omicron Hospitality Payment to be made. Payments will be £10,000 per business.

If there has been no change in a business’s circumstances, the payment should be with the business within 7 to 10 working days of their application, depending on how long the payment takes to clear through the banking system. If circumstances have changed, Land & Property Services will need to carry out some further validation checks and gather some additional information, which will require additional time to process.

New soft play, inflatable and trampoline parks or those that had not previously applied to the LRSS can apply by downloading an application form on the nibusinessinfo website https://www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk/content/coronavirus-omicron-hospitality-payment.

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