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The DUP has accused Michelle O’Neill of performing a massive U-turn on easing Covid-19 restrictions “under the orders of Dublin Sinn Fein”.

The DUP has accused Michelle O’Neill of performing a massive U-turn on easing Covid-19 restrictions “under the orders of Dublin Sinn Fein”.The Deputy First Minister suggested on Sunday that cafes and restaurants could be allowed to reopen from Friday.But the DUP said she had rowed back on significantly lifting the restrictions on hospitality in Northern Ireland this week because she was told it clashes with Mary Lou McDonald’s position across the border.DUP sources reported angry exchanges at Stormont on Tuesday with Sinn Fein over what they called its “spectacular backflip”.
A party insider said: “Michelle was very strong on the need to reopen hospitality. She suggested on the BBC’s Sunday Politics that cafes and restaurants be allowed to reopen this Friday, but she has rowed back on that this week.
“We have been told that is under the orders of the party leadership in Dublin. Michelle cannot be seen to be reopening hospitality in Northern Ireland while Mary Lou supports its closure in the Irish Republic.”
Talks adjourned at around 12.30am and are set to resume around midday on Wednesday.
Low paid workers being denied the opportunity to get full wages in advance of Christmas with no empirical evidence provided.Close contact services estimated to add 0.05 to the R rate which is currently at 0.7.
Edwin Poots MLA (@edwinpootsmla) November 11, 2020
The two week circuit breaker became four, now they want six and then what? 1,000s of staff in hospitality having their wages cut and no tips in the mouth of Christmas if SF have there way.
Edwin Poots MLA (@edwinpootsmla) November 11, 2020
Mental health and domestic abuse rising dramatically. Leading cardiologist warning poorer outcomes from lockdown. Cancer deaths rising less early detection. Fewer GP contactsPoorer outcomes on circulation, conditions The health of our country is about more than Covid19.
Edwin Poots MLA (@edwinpootsmla) November 11, 2020
Sinn Fein said on Tuesday that while the reopening of close-contact services such as hairdressers and beauticians was possible, restrictions on the hospitality sector should remain in place for another fortnight.
It dismissed the DUP’s claim as “patent nonsense”. A spokesman said Sinn Fein “backed the paper put on the table for the Executive by Robin Swann”.
“It is staggering that the DUP used a mechanism to protect minorities to block a public health proposal,” he added, and rejected any suggestion that Ms O’Neill’s position was dictated by the party in the Republic.
The Executive was last night deeply divided over easing restrictions, with the SDLP and UUP warning that acting hastily would cause deaths and harm businesses more in the long run.
The DUP moved to block the proposal from Health Minister Robin Swann to extend Northern Ireland’s circuit-break lockdown for another fortnight.
Just finished In Stormont. Meeting is adjourned to 12.30 tomorrow. A Key decision still to be taken. It’s important that we follow the medical advice and get this right.
Michelle O’Neill (@moneillsf) November 11, 2020
Mr Swann’s plan fell after DUP Minister Edwin Poots called for a cross-community voting mechanism to be used to decide the issue, effectively handing his party a veto. The DUP then tabled a paper by Economy Minister Diane Dodds recommending the staggered reopening of the hospitality sector, but that met strong opposition from the SDLP and UUP.
A source said: “Health advice suggests that the DUP proposals would have a very negative impact on Covid infection rates and cause the R number to rise. We believe reopening in this manner now would lead to the need for another circuit-breaker lockdown in December, which would be catastrophic for businesses.”
A compromise between Mrs Dodds’ ambitious proposals and Mr Swann’s paper asking for restrictions to be extended for a fortnight was then made. It involves hairdressers and beauticians being allowed to return to work from Friday. Cafes and non-licensed restaurants would be allowed to open until 8pm.
However, the SDLP and UUP were unconvinced that this proposal put public health first.
Mr Swann warned of the dangers of another spike in cases next month if a cautious approach was not adhered to now.
Mrs Dodds’ plan called for unlicensed premises, including cafes and coffee shops, to reopen on Friday. Hotels would be able to serve food and alcohol to residents, and licensed premises would remain closed until November 27.
A ‘safely open’ group, involving the hospitality sector and Executive members, would be established to oversee this move.
Pubs and bars would be able to offer sealed off-sales from November 13.
A further 11 Covid-19 linked deaths were announced here on Tuesday, along with 514 new cases.