Northern Ireland’s lockdown has been extended to April, but some primary school pupils will return to class on March 8th.
The PA news agency understands the Stormont Executive has decided to keep the current restrictions in place until April 1st. They had been due to lapse on March 5th.
Primary school pupils in year groups P1 to P3 will return to face-to-face learning on March 8th.
Only vulnerable children and those of key workers have been in classrooms since January.
On March 22nd, secondary pupils in key exam years – year groups 12 to 14 – will return to school.
Stormont Executive decisions:
Lockdown extended to April 1 (review March 18).
Schools - P1 to P3 return March 8; Years 12-14 return March 22.
Some relaxations to allow 'click and collect' shopping for outlets selling baby clothes; clothes and footwear; and electrical goods.Advertisement
— David Young (@DavidYoungPA) February 18, 2021
It is understood P1-P3 pupils will revert to remote learning for a week on that date – for the week prior to the Easter holidays – to minimise the impact on infection rates of years 12-14 returning.
No decisions have been taken on whether other year groups will return to class after the Easter holidays.
At Thursday’s Executive meeting, ministers also agreed to make relaxations to allow “click and collect” shopping from some outlets previously categorised as non-essential retailers.
From March 8th, click and collect will be permitted for shops selling baby equipment, clothing and footwear, and electrical goods.
The decision to extend the main lockdown restrictions to April 1st will be subject to a review on March 18th.
Ministers are expected to formally confirm the decisions at a press conference later on Thursday.
Since Christmas, people in the North have only been able to leave home for essential purposes such as work or exercise.
It comes as another six people have died with Covid-19 in Northern Ireland, according to the region's Department of Health said.
An additional 342 cases were confirmed.
A total of 418 hospital inpatients were recorded at midnight, and 51 were in intensive care on Thursday morning.