Northern Ireland's 'stay at home' rule to lift next month

ireland
Northern Ireland's 'Stay At Home' Rule To Lift Next Month Northern Ireland's 'Stay At Home' Rule To Lift Next Month
Stormont, © PA Archive/PA Images
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By David Young, PA

Northern Ireland's “stay at home” rule is set to lift next month, and will be replaced with a “stay local” message.

Stormont ministers have agreed a series of lockdown relaxations, including a timetable for returning all schoolchildren to classes.

Easements focus on outdoor gatherings and sporting activities, as well as click and collect services for non-essential retail outlets.

It is understood that ministers have agreed the following relaxations from April 1st:

  • Up to six people from no more than two households can meet outdoors in a private garden.
  • Ten people, from no more than two households, able to participate in outdoor sporting activities. Golf courses to reopen (clubhouses to remain closed).
  • Click and collect purchases allowed from garden centres and plant nurseries.

The following further relaxations are expected from April 12th:

  • Up to ten people from no more than two households can meet outdoors in a private garden.
  • Click and collect at all non-essential retail outlets.
  • “Stay at home” requirement lifts. Will be replaced by “stay local” message.
  • Outdoor sports training to resume for sports clubs affiliated with recognised governing bodies with no more than 15 participants in one training group. Indoor club facilities, apart from toilets, to remain closed.

April 12th measures are subject to final ratification by the Executive in the week before they come into effect, likely on April 8th.

Primary pupils in years P1 to P3 are already back in classes and secondary school children in year groups 12 to 14 are due back on Monday March 22nd.

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It is understood that ministers have agreed that remaining primary pupils in P4 to P7 will also return on March 22nd.

The final cohort, secondary pupils in years eight to 11, will go back to classes on April 12th after the Easter holidays, though this step is subject to an Executive review of the public health picture at the end of March.

First Minster Arlene Foster will announce the decisions in the Assembly later on Tuesday (Liam McBurney/PA)

First Minister Arlene Foster will outline the decisions to the Assembly later on Tuesday on behalf of the powersharing administration. The moves were agreed at a virtual Executive meeting earlier on Tuesday.

Northern Ireland has been living under restrictive lockdown measures since a spike of coronavirus cases in December.

The Executive published its Pathway Out Of Restrictions blueprint earlier this month.

It includes five steps along nine pathways – retail; hospitality; education and young people; work; culture, heritage and entertainment; sports and leisure; travel and tourism; worship and ceremonies; and home and community.

The five stages of restriction begin with lockdown then extend to cautious first steps, gradual easing, further easing, and preparing for the future. The plan did not initially include any dates.

The death of one more person who previously tested positive for Covid-19 was confirmed by Northern Ireland’s Department of Health on Tuesday.

Another 164 confirmed cases of the virus were also recorded.

The department’s confirmed coronavirus hospital inpatient number stood at 176 on Tuesday morning, 18 of whom were in intensive care.

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