Crowds outside Primark store spark Christmas warning in North

Crowds Outside Primark Store Spark Christmas Warning In North
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By Digital Desk Staff. Additional reporting by PA.

Stormont’s Finance Minister has urged the public to act in a safe way following scenes of crowds and long queues at a Primark store in Newtownabbey over the weekend.

Images of the crowds have sparked concerns as Northern Ireland emerges from two weeks of circuit-breaker restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of Covid-19, with the Belfast Telegraph reporting a mile-long queue of more than 1,000 people in the early hours of Saturday morning.

It comes as the Primark store in Newtownabbey’s Abbey Centre said it would open for 33 hours straight over the weekend, from 9am on Friday to 6pm on Saturday.

“There is a concern because the level of Covid is still much too high, and there are still people dying from Covid,” Stormont’s Finance Minister Conor Murphy told media when asked about the scenes during a ministerial visit in Dunmurray.

“There is a time lag generally between a circuit-breaker and the effect of that, so we’re hoping to see a more positive outcome.

“But of course there is a recognition that people need to be able to get out and prepare for Christmas. Businesses and hospitality are struggling very badly and they need to get a chance to try to make some money.

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“There is also an expectation that people will behave in a certain fashion, that people will observe social distancing, sanitising and make sure that in accessing servicing and goods, shopping and hospitality, they do so in a safe way.”


Mr Murphy said the Executive will meet on Thursday, possibly also on Tuesday morning to “discuss these things”, as well as post-Christmas arrangements.

Acknowledging warnings from Health Minister Robin Swann around potential further restrictions after Christmas, Mr Murphy added: “The better the behaviour over Christmas, the less restrictions are required on the other side of Christmas.”

It comes as yesterday, another four people were confirmed to have died with Covid-19 in Northern Ireland, while an additional 483 tested positive for the virus.

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