Objective must be maximum community compliance to suppress Covid-19 - Kearney
Sinn Féin Minister in the Executive Office Declan Kearney chaired an inter agency meeting on compliance this morning which included senior police, local government and civil service officials. This follows the announcement of extra enforcement powers to be adopted by the north’s power sharing Executive.
Speaking afterwards, the South Antrim MLA said:
“Today overall Covid-19 community transmission levels in the north reached alarming new levels, with over 1,000 new confirmed daily cases.
“The context of our inter agency meeting on addressing societal compliance with the public health regulations and guidance, was set by the stark reality that if the six counties was defined as a country we would now have the highest per capita level of community infection in all of Europe.
“Eight days ago there were 64 hospitalisation cases. As of today that figure has risen to 128. Without an urgent suppression of the current trajectory of Covid-19, hospital cases could exceed 500.
“Yesterday important new powers and penalties for enforcement were approved. These will assist both PSNI and local government.
“It is important to understand that enforcement penalties are not ends in themselves. These measures are additions to the existing tool kit of powers and penalties which are needed when compliance is lacking.
“It was agreed by all agencies at this morning’s meeting that our objective must be to maximise a culture of compliance and overall community partnership in fighting the virus.
“Importantly, and following on from today’s discussion, new Memoranda of Understandings are being put in place between all district councils and PSNI district commands to more closely coordinate police officers and council officials in the promotion of widespread compliance within the community and across all relevant retail and licensed sectors, and other settings.
“A strategic engagement has also been agreed with the retail sector in the north to double down and renew social distancing measures to enhance the protection of staff and customers. Other discussions will also occur with other sectors next week.
“The agency partners in attendance today will review progress next week in conjunction with the chief medical officer and scientific advisor.”