Northern Ireland to make masks compulsory in shops and enclosed spaces as coronavirus cases rise

Credit: PA

Wearing masks in shops and other enclosed public spaces will be made mandatory in Northern Ireland on Monday, following a rise in coronavirus cases in the nation.

First Minister Arlene Foster also confirmed that some pubs will not be allowed to reopen as scheduled.

Indoor pubs, which do not serve food, will not be permitted to open on Monday, as had been originally planned.

The news comes on the day more than 20 coronavirus clusters have been identified in Northern Ireland.

Of the 23 pinpointed in the region since May 25 when the test and trace programme went live, 11 clusters remain open, according to the Public Health Agency (PHA).

Some 168 cases of Covid-19 have been associated with these clusters, with nine of the clusters having had five or more cases associated with them.

It was also announced that the R number in Northern Ireland could be as high as 1.8.

The statement from the PHA came on Thursday as the Department of Health's daily updates showed that 43 more positive cases of coronavirus have been detected in the region, bringing the total to 6,049.

No new deaths were recorded on Thursday, leaving the total in the region at 556, according to departmental figures.

The PHA has defined a cluster as two or more laboratory-confirmed cases of Covid-19 among individuals associated with a key setting, with illness onset dates within a 14-day period.