A controlled ‘click and collect’ service for retail can operate during the two-week circuit breaker beginning on Friday 27 November, the Executive has agreed today.
Click and collect facilities will be permitted to operate on an appointment-only basis with maximum mitigations in place. Urgent engagement will take place with the retail sector on the strict arrangements under which such a service may operate.
Eligible businesses will still be able to access financial support schemes during this period.
The Executive has also agreed that places of worship may open for individual acts of worship, and that drive-in services would also be permitted for the two-week period.
Ministers also confirmed that outdoor visitor attractions will be closed for the duration of the two weeks; and that self-catering accommodation will only be permitted to operate on a restricted basis, in line with arrangements in place for other accommodation providers, including hotels.
First Minister Arlene Foster said: “The Executive is taking a balanced approach to implementing the circuit breaker restrictions which begin on Friday so that people can plan and prepare for Christmas in a safe and controlled way. Strict arrangements will be in place to limit contact with others.
“This weekend sees the beginning of Advent and we have agreed that it is important that all places of worship can remain open for individual prayer. The Executive also confirmed that drive-in services are permitted.
“It is hoped that these small adjustments will help to maintain wellbeing and reduce pressure as we ask everyone to really dig deep and support the two week effort to bring down rates of infection.
“This is a time for everyone to take responsibility for their actions and to help reduce the spread of Covid-19. We all must do what we can to save lives and to ensure the safest Christmas for all.”
Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said: “The Executive took a difficult but necessary decision last week to introduce two weeks of restrictions, from this Friday, to reduce the spread of Coronavirus, save lives, and protect the health service and its workers from unimaginable pressure.
“We understand the implications of these restrictions, and have moved to urgently put in place a further £300m support package for those affected.
“We have listened to views on a range of issues and agreed that retail businesses will be able to operate a click and collect service in a controlled manner that helps to ensure the safety of both customers and staff.
“We also understand how important it is for many people to attend their place of worship and have agreed that they can still do so individually.
“These two weeks offer us the best chance of pushing community transmission as low as possible to allow a safer Christmas for everyone. We urge everyone to continue working with us, to please play your part and keep doing everything you can to stop the spread of the virus.”