Today will see for the first time in over 100 days, many non-essential businesses begin to re-open their premises along Northern Ireland High Streets, if but to a ‘new norm’.
The First & Deputy First Ministers made the announcement last week as part of further easing of restrictions, that continue their ongoing phased approach to exit the COIVIS-19 crisis, non-essential retailers could begin to re-open from today (June 12th).
This was however on the condition that the ‘R’ value remained below 1 and that the businesses put in place measures to ensure that they are COVID safe for both staff and customers. Currently the ‘R’ value is estimated at 0.5 – 0.9 as of Thursday.
Some of the measures that businesses will be putting in place this morning, or in the coming days’ to re-open their doors have been; setting up of hand sanitising station, one way travel around the shop floor, limiting to the number of customers on the premises at anyone time and appropriate signage. Many businesses will also use PPE and transparent screen could be placed at till/checkout areas.
This comes as the National Office of Statistics revealed that the UK in the month of April, saw a downturn in the economy of 20.4%, three times that which the UK saw during the economic crisis in 2008/09
The lifting of these restrictions, along with a number of other announcements made yesterday at the daily briefing, will see the NI Executive begin to close out phase one of their exit plan.
Welcoming the news yesterday, including the announcement that shopping centres would be included in this phased re-opening, the Economy Minister Diane Dodds said:
“It is great news that the Executive today confirmed the re-opening plans.
“This is a further step in getting the economy moving again.
“I would urge people to be considerate when they go shopping, and to think of others to ensure the safety of themselves and also the many staff returning to work.
“Please follow signs and instructions which will have been put in place to protect everyone.
“All stores must adhere to the relevant safety measures and ensure social distancing is maintained.”
The next statutory review by the Executive of the Regulations will take place on June 18th.