Home NORTHERN IRELAND NEWS First Minister announces ‘cautious but optimistic’ lockdown relaxations from April 1

First Minister announces ‘cautious but optimistic’ lockdown relaxations from April 1


Following on from Today’s (Match 16) NI Executive meeting discussing the movements forward on the COBOD-19 ‘pathway to recovery’, a number of restriction are to be eased from April 1.

While the majority of the current restrictions will remain in place until after Easter, the Executive agreed to gradual changes which will come into effect before the next formal review date on or before April 15.

The First Minister outlined the following changes to the Assembly.

In relation to schools, the Executive agreed that all Primary 4 to Primary 7 pupils will return to school from Monday, March 22.

It was also agreed that Year 8-11 pupils will return to the classroom after the Easter holiday on April 12, subject to a review of the public health situation at the end of March.

The return to face to face teaching limits the scope for further relaxations but, as a result of the efforts by the majority across society in following the public health advice and slowing the spread of the virus, Ministers agreed on the following package of easements in outdoor settings.

From April 1, it’s expected that:

– Up to six people from no more than two households will be allowed to meet in outdoor private gardens.

– up to ten people, from no more than two households, will be able to take part in outdoor sporting activities.

– Click and collect services can resume for garden centres.

– Golf may resume with the reopening of courses, but not clubhouses

At this stage it’s expected that April 12 will see the easing of further restrictions, with final confirmation of these decided by the Executive following the next review on April 8.

– People meeting outdoors in a private garden will rise to 10 from no more than two household.

– Sports training outdoors can resume with no more than 15 participants from one group of individuals.

– Click and collect services to resume for all non-essential retail outlets.

– The stay at home message will be lifted and replaced with a stay local & work from home message.

These relaxations planned for April 12 will be subject to Executive ratification in the week after the Easter weekend.

The Executive has also agreed to increase the provision for elite sports from March 25 to allow a number of new competitions to begin.

This minor adjustment to the current restrictions will allow two World Cup qualifications matches scheduled for March 25 and 31 to take place as well as a friendly match between NI and the USA on March 28. Irish league teams will also be able to begin training.

No spectators will be permitted at any sporting event.