We must all keep doing our best to protect the progress we have made on the journey out of restrictions, the First Minister and deputy First Minister have said.
Paul Givan and Michelle O’Neill were speaking ahead of the further easing of Coronavirus regulations from noon tomorrow, 31 October.
The changes give effect to a fuller reopening of our hospitality sector, where mitigations and personal choices will be key in keeping everyone as safe as possible.
Ministers reminded the public that, as part of the measures in place to ensure safer environments across different sectors, people should expect to be asked for proof of their Covid status.
First Minister Paul Givan said: “We have come a long way in our fight against Covid-19. Together, we have reached a point where almost all restrictions have been lifted, or replaced with advice. It is this guidance which is critical in our efforts to protect people’s health, while working to bring about economic recovery and community wellbeing.
“We want to keep moving forward and every individual, business and sector has a part to play in in achieving that. We ask everyone to keep following the public health advice. The responsibility lies with each of us to protect ourselves, our families and the whole community.”
Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said: “The Executive is striving to keep people safe from Covid-19 and protect our health service, while addressing the acute needs of families, the economy and wider society.
“This latest set of relaxations must go hand in hand with the necessary mitigations and personal behaviours that will help to manage risks as people socialise together.
“We have contingency plans in place that will allow us to deploy additional measures if the situation requires. However, to help avoid future restrictions it is absolutely vital that we all make the public health advice part of our everyday lives. We urge everyone to take up the vaccine, and for everyone to keep taking steps to protect yourself and others, even after you’re vaccinated.”
Ministers again reminded people of the simple steps they can take to help reduce the spread of Covid-19 and protect the health service. They are:
- Get the vaccine when you are offered it;
- Wear a face covering in crowded or indoor settings;
- Wash your hands regularly, and cover your nose and mouth if coughing or sneezing;
- Self-isolate and take a PCR test if you have symptoms;
- Take regular tests if you don’t have symptoms to reduce the risk of spreading the virus;
- Meet outside if you can, and open windows when indoors;
- Keep your distance from people not in your group; and
- Work from home where practicable, or do a mixture of home and office-based working.
A number of mitigations remain in law so they can be effectively enforced where appropriate. These include:
- the retention of a legal requirement for face coverings in public indoor settings; and
- the continued legal requirement for risk assessments to be carried out in certain settings and for visitor and attendee details to be recorded to support the work of the Test, Trace and Protect system.