UK News NI’s exit from lockdown ‘will move faster if possible’ – Arlene Foster
‘Scales tipping in favour’ of lockdown relaxations – Robin Swann
Northern Ireland’s health minister was speaking ahead of a meeting of the Stormont Executive where reopening dates are to be discussed.Robin Swann was speaking ahead of a meeting of the Stormont Executive on Thursday, when ministers will formally review the coronavirus regulations.
Northern Ireland will move out of lockdown restrictions faster than planned, if possible, the First Minister has said.
Speaking on the eve of further relaxations of the coronavirus regulations, which will include the reopening of close contact services, Arlene Foster said the Executive will “keep looking to see if we can move faster”.
But she cautioned that will depend on the impact of the current and imminent relaxations on Covid-19 transmission rates.
Friday will also see the reopening of outdoor visitor attractions, resumption of driving lessons and tests and a return to competitive sports for clubs.
Hospitality reopening fast-tracked in NI as raft of lockdown relaxations agreed
Executive ministers have signed off on a timeline to reopen many aspects of the economy.The powersharing executive has signed off on a plan with three key relaxation dates, April 23, April 30 and May 24.
Non-essential retail, gyms, swimming pools and outdoor hospitality will reopen next Friday.
“We have to see what the impact is of relaxations and then make an assessment as to whether we can move dates forward,” Mrs Foster said.
Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill urged “caution to go alongside the lifting of the restrictions”.
Earlier, Irish premier Micheal Martin said there will not be “perfect alignment” in the reopening of society in Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.
The Irish government is not due to announce relaxations until next month.
However, the Taoiseach told Northern Ireland business leaders on Friday that he is in regular contact with Stormont’s first and deputy ministers about the pace of reopening.
Northern Ireland heads out of lockdown from April 23
The measures were outlined by Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster and deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill to a special Assembly committee on Thursday evening. © Provided by Daily Mail The measures were outlined by First Minister Arlene Foster (pictured) and deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill to a special Assembly committee on Thursday evening © Provided by Daily Mail Northern Ireland's deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill speaks to the media outside Parliament Buildings, Stormont, on Thursday What people can do on April 23, 30 and May 24 The Stormont Executive has agreed
He said there will be “some gaps”, primarily due to to the differences in the speed of vaccination programmes in the two jurisdictions.
Ms O’Neill said throughout the pandemic, they have “tried to be as aligned as we can be”.
“Unfortunately just with the way the virus has spread, at different times, we have been at different stages and currently that’s where we are,” she said.
“I’m hopeful that as the vaccination programme rolls out across the 26 counties that we will get back to the point where we will be more aligned and also work together to deal with what is still going to be a challenging period ahead.”
It was absolutely fantastic to speak with young people back at their football training today.
The huge smiles on their faces and the atmosphere was amazing.
This is a time of hope and optimism, there are brighter days ahead!
— Michelle O’Neill (@moneillsf)
NI children as young as 13 developed an eating disorder during lockown - says charity
“No one should die from an eating disorder,” said Co Down woman Colette Lydon.Having battled an eating disorder during her teenage years, Colette, 26, knows, first-hand, the devastating impact of the mental health illness, and the added pressure lockdown will have placed on sufferers and their families.
Mrs Foster said the Taoiseach recognised the vaccination programme “made the difference” in terms of Northern Ireland’s progress out of lockdown.
“There is some concern in the fact that there are some cases of the Indian variant in the Republic of Ireland, and we need to keep an eye on that,” she added.
Mrs Foster and Ms O’Neill were speaking during a visit to the Mid Ulster Sports Arena in Cookstown following a meeting of the Stormont Executive.
Mrs Foster said they were delighted to see the young people playing football and the relaxations happening in reality.
Ms O’Neill said it was very heartening to see young people outdoors again.
“It is fantastic to be here and see the joy on the youngster’s faces,” she said.
“These are the days we have been looking forward to. There are better days ahead but we just need people to still be careful and be cautious,” she said.
Earlier, Health Minister Robin Swann has said the Covid-19 R number has fallen back slightly once again in Northern Ireland.
It is currently estimated to be between 0.7-1.05 – an improvement from the estimation of between 0.95-1.4 last week.
“We’re still in roughly the same position as we were in September last year in respect of case numbers and hospital occupancy,” Mr Swann told the Stormont Health Committee.
“The crucial difference now is that the vaccine programme means that the proportion of the population that is susceptible to virus transmission is much smaller.”
On Thursday, there were three further deaths of patients who previously tested positive for Covid-19 in Northern Ireland, as well as another 120 positive cases of the virus.
On Thursday morning, there were 62 confirmed Covid-19 inpatients in hospital, seven of whom were in ICU.
Arlene Foster leadership in doubt after internal heave .
It is understood a letter expressing no confidence in the DUP leader has been circulated among the party’s elected representatives.It is understood a significant number of elected representatives have signed a letter of no confidence in Mrs Foster that has been circulated among party MLAs, MPs and peers.