Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

12.24 12 May 2020


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The Northern Ireland Executive has published its five-step plan on reopening the country.

The plan is similar to the roadmap put forward by the Irish Government, with each different step including a range of restrictions being eased.

First Minister Arlene Foster said any changes will be science-led, not date-led, and will be reviewed every three weeks.

'Step one' in the plan would include drive through church services and cinemas, outdoor gatherings of up to six people from different households, and a reopening of retailers such as garden centres.

Restaurants, cafes, pubs and nightclubs would only reopen on a 'limited basis' during step five.

Hairdressing salons could reopen in the fourth phase, similar to the plan in the Republic.

The Executive says that measures will only be able to be eased once a number of factors are considered, including healthcare capacity and the reproduction rate of the virus.

Explaining the plan, Arlene Foster and Michelle O'Neill said in a joint statement: "The truth is that we will not see a return to all of the normal ways of living we had before the pandemic in the short to medium term at least.

"This pandemic has affected all of our lives in multiple ways and it will take a whole of society approach and collective effort if we are to minimise its impact, and then make the best possible recovery from it.

"We will endeavour to reach sound judgements, based firmly on the medical and scientific evidence and best practice and we ask that you would continue to abide by those restrictions that are considered necessary."

They said they also don't want to see the country losing 'positive changes' that have occurred, such as less car travel and people taking more daily exercise.

Main image: File photo of Arlene Foster and Michelle O'Neill. Picture by: Kelvin Boyes/Press Eye/PA Wire/PA Images

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