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Northern Ireland Corona Virus: Updates July 25

Confusion remains about mandatory face covering in stores in Northern Ireland as the region prepares to roll out a new contact tracking app to help prevent the spread of Covid-19.

The Executive said it has given itself the authority to make it compulsory to wear coverings in stores from August 1, but will not enforce that law until August 20, in the hope that people will voluntarily wear them.

Health Minister Robin Swann said he is still not convinced that people will wear masks without being forced to do so, while Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon called for a clear message from the executive on this issue.

Retail groups Retail NI and the Belfast Chamber had expressed concern that store personnel should enforce the wearing of coverings, making them susceptible to abuse by non-compliant customers.

The news comes before the launch of Northern Ireland’s contact tracing app, Stop Covid NI, late next week.

The app will warn users anonymously if they have been in close contact with another user who has tested positive for the virus.

Meanwhile, no further coronavirus-related deaths were reported by the Department of Health on Friday, keeping the death toll at 556.

A further 15 positive cases were confirmed, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in Northern Ireland since the outbreak started at 5,891.

Belfast Telegraph