The NI Executive, as well as the other two UK devolved nations of Scotland and Wales, have rejected to adopt the UK government new campaign of ‘Stay Alert, Control the Spread, Save Lives’ in favour to remain with the advice to ‘Stay at Home’.
The Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressed the nation in a pre-recorded message to the UK yesterday evening with news that a new ‘COVID Alert system’ would be set up with five levels, five being highest risk and one being no virus in the UK.
The PM also set out a three phased plan to begin to come out of lockdown, a plan which at present will only be in force in England as Scotland, Wales and here in Northern Ireland are devolved and at different stages of the COVID-19 outbreak.
The NI Executives announced last week a further 3 weeks of the current restrictions will be in place before they look at the situation again BUT will later today discuss and consider a phased plan to bring Northern Ireland out of the lockdown.
It’s uncertain what the timeline of this plan will be or what restriction could be relaxed or lifted, but the details could be published as soon as Tuesday May 12th.
Speaking yesterday, First & Deputy Minister Arlene Forster and Michelle O’Neill said:
First Minister Arlene Foster said: “People across Northern Ireland have listened and acted on the public health advice over the last six weeks. They have stayed at home, kept their distance and washed their hands and because of that, they have saved lives.
“We have flattened the curve of infection, reduced the R rate to below one and protected our health service but we are not out of the woods yet. It is important that we continue to follow this advice.
“As the Executive begins to finalise our plans for recovery, we need to strike the balance between continuing to protect lives and the health service and give people hope for the future. The changes that we will introduce will be gradual, proportionate and based on scientific and medical advice and will be taken at the right time and in the best interests of the people of Northern Ireland.”
Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said: “Society has changed beyond all recognition over the past six weeks as people have followed the advice to stay at home and save lives. That remains the message.
“As an Executive we know it has been tough and we understand the impact the regulations are having on what was once our normal lives. But we are at a critical stage in the fight against the virus and so our recovery must be phased, gradual and strategic.
“The decisions this Executive will take in the days and weeks ahead are some of the biggest we will ever have to make. We know that six weeks into the restrictions, people need some light at the end of the tunnel. We also know that recovery will only happen one step at a time, to do otherwise risks undermining the sacrifices people have already made and increases the risk of a second spike in the future.”