Th First Minister today announced that after reviewing the COVID-19 situation, the Executive agreed today to keep the current Coronavirus Regulations in place until the circumstances allow for their relaxation.
First Minister Arlene Foster, deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill and the Health Minister Robin Swann confirmed the decision to keep them under continuous review was taken after Ministers considered the latest scientific evidence and medical advice.
First Minister Foster explained: “Based on the evidence and advice provided to us by our scientific and medical professionals on the current transmission rates of the virus, and the significant level of risk in the relaxation of measures at this stage, we were not in a position to ease any of the restrictions following this most recent review…The next statutory review of the Regulations will take place before 30 May but we are committed to keeping them under continuous review and if we reach a point where we can make changes to specific measures before then, we will do so.”
Deputy First Minister O’Neill acknowledged: “This news will undoubtedly be disappointing for many people who have done a fantastic job of following the measures in place for the last six weeks; but I know that people will also understand that this is a precarious situation and lives depend on the approach we take at every juncture. We are appealing to the public to be patient and continue to abide by the regulations.”
Minister Swann added: “The relaxation of any restriction is not without risk. Each requires detailed consideration of a complex set of circumstances and is a fine balancing act between controlling transmission of the virus and the detrimental impacts of having the Regulations in place. Our primary concern is saving lives in the short, medium and long term. We cannot risk the decisions we take now having damaging consequences in the future and it is for this reason that the Regulations must remain in place.”