SUPERMARKET shelves are being stripped of toilet roll and popular dried foods again as the Friday deadline for new Stormont Covid rules draws near.

In scenes depressingly familiar from the early spring months of the pandemic, panicking shoppers filled the aisles of the big stores to stock up – even though retail remains relatively unscathed in the new round of restrictions.

Schools are to close for a week ahead of the regular Halloween mid-term break – meaning pupils will be out of the classroom for at least a  fortnight.

The big loser in the new month-long ‘circuit-breaker’ lockdown is the hospitality industry. Pubs and restaurants struggling to get back on their feet after the lifting of the most recent restrictions have been dealt a savage blow by a four-week closure of pubs and restaurants which begins on Friday.