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The Northern Irish Executive will meet tomorrow to discuss its Covid-19 strategy. Kelvin Boyes/Press Eye/PA Wire/PA Images
stay home

Politicians in NI to meet tomorrow to discuss plan for any easing of Covid-19 restrictions

This evening, Boris Johnson set out his government’s roadmap for the easing of restrictions.

POLITICIANS IN NORTHERN Ireland will meet tomorrow to discuss plans for an easing of Covid-19 restrictions, after UK prime minister Boris Johnson set out his own roadmap earlier this evening. 

There is significant discord between the approach of the UK government and the devolved governments of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales – with each region rejecting Johnson’s new “stay alert” slogan in favour of the “Stay at home, save lives” message.

Earlier, Johnson announced a “sketch” of what the coming weeks and months might look like in the UK. 

Schools and shops could begin a phased reopening in June, while under the plan at least some of the hospitality industry and other public places could reopen as early as July. 

More immediately, people in the UK will also have more freedom when it comes to exercise from Wednesday, while Johnson also said that from this week anyone who cannot work from home “should be actively encouraged to go to work” but avoid using public transport if possible.

It remains to be seen what exact approach the North will take. 

In a statement today, First Minister Arlene Foster said that Northern Ireland is “not out of the woods yet”. 

 ”It is important that we continue to follow this advice,” she said. 

“As the Executive begins to finalise our plans for recovery, we need to strike the balance between continuing to protect lives and the health service and give people hope for the future,” Foster said.

“The changes that we will introduce will be gradual, proportionate and based on scientific and medical advice and will be taken at the right time and in the best interests of the people of Northern Ireland.”

Echoing this, Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said the decisions the Executive will take in the days and weeks ahead “are some of the biggest we will ever have to make”.

She said: “We know that six weeks into the restrictions, people need some light at the end of the tunnel. We also know that recovery will only happen one step at a time, to do otherwise risks undermining the sacrifices people have already made and increases the risk of a second spike in the future.”

Earlier today, SDLP leader Colum Eastwood told Johnson that the new slogan is “a nonsense”.

He tweeted: “Just spoke to Boris Johnson about the address he will make tonight. I made it clear that his new ‘Stay Alert’ message is a nonsense. I also stressed the need for a cautious plan to move beyond full lockdown. That plan has to include a proper all Ireland testing and tracing system.”

Northern Ireland’s reproductive rate (R0) – the number of people an infected person infects – is currently at 0.8.

Today, another five Covid-19 deaths were reported in Northern Ireland, the Department of Health said, taking total fatalities to 435.

A further 41 positive cases were also diagnosed, taking the total number of confirmed cases to 4,119. 

With reporting from Press Association 

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