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Northern Ireland Coronavirus: How lockdown rules differ in Northern Ireland


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Northern Ireland Coronavirus: How lockdown rules differ in Northern Ireland

Media playback is unsupported on your device Media captionWhat does the ease in restrictions mean for people in Northern Ireland?The Northern Ireland Executive has published its five-stage plan for slowly easing the coronavirus lockdown.Unlike the recovery plan in the Republic of Ireland, the blueprint for NI does not include projected dates. The current lockdown remains…

Northern Ireland Coronavirus: How lockdown rules differ in Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland

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Media captionWhat does the ease in restrictions mean for people in Northern Ireland?

The Northern Ireland Executive has published its five-stage plan for slowly easing the coronavirus lockdown.

Unlike the recovery plan in the Republic of Ireland, the blueprint for NI does not include projected dates.

The current lockdown remains in place until 28 May, but some aspects of the first stage of the executive’s plan have already taken effect.

Movement between each of the five stages will depend on progress in reducing the transmission of the virus, being guided primarily by medical and scientific evidence and the NHS’s capacity to cope, the executive has said.

Northern Ireland’s Pathway to Recovery plan is broken down into sections covering family, work, exercise, education, travel and retail.

Here’s a look at how the plans compare to both the measures announced by the prime minister last week – which only apply in England – and the Republic of Ireland’s roadmap.

Northern Ireland Work

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Step one of the loosening of restrictions in Northern Ireland sees those unable to work from home encouraged to go back to work on a phased basis.

In the Republic of Ireland, phase one measures began on Monday 18 May, introducing a phased return of outdoor workers, for example construction workers and gardeners, with social distancing rules enforced.

Anyone else who can work from home is to continue to do so.

People in England who can’t work from home – particularly in construction and manufacturing – are also being actively encouraged to go to work.

They should still avoid public transport if possible because of social distancing and employers should make workplaces “Covid-secure” – by staggering shifts, rethinking shared equipment or planning safe walking routes.

Northern Ireland Exercise

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In Northern Ireland, phase one sees outdoor spaces and public sports amenities reopen.

People can continue to run, walk and cycle but outdoor activities and sports that do not involve shared contact with hard surfaces, such as golf, water sports and tennis, can restart again.

Last week, ministers had agreed angling could already be permitted.

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Media captionCoronavirus lockdown: ‘We will not be driven by a timetable’

In the Republic of Ireland, some outdoor activities are now allowed.

Golf courses have reopened on a restricted basis, along with sports pitches and tennis courts where social distancing can be maintained.

People are also allowed to exercise in a group of no more than four people, where social distancing can be applied.

In England, people can take “unlimited amounts of outdoor exercise” and generally spend more time outdoors for leisure purposes.

Sports such as golf, basketball, tennis and fishing are now allowed involving members of the same household.

People are also free to sit in parks, and to play sports with people from the same household.

Driving to a beach or park is also permitted. However, social distancing rules – keeping at least 2m apart from non-household members – still apply.

Northern Ireland Family and community

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PA Media

Image caption

Drive-through church services could begin in phase one

Marriage ceremonies for the terminally ill are now allowed in Northern Ireland.

First Minister Arlene Foster said ministers had authorised the move after hearing the case of a terminally ill woman who wants to get married.

Drive-in church services can be held and churches can open for private prayer with appropriate distancing and cleaning.

Groups of up to six people who do not share a household can meet up outdoors while maintaining social distancing.

However, people cannot visit immediate family indoors yet, despite it being part of the first step of the recovery plan.

The executive has pledged to revisit lifting this restriction, once the medical advice changes.

In the Republic of Ireland, up to four people who do not live together can meet outdoors, while keeping at least 2m apart.

In England, new guidelines allow one person to meet one other person from outside their household outdoors – as long as they stay more than 2m apart.

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However, this does not include meeting up in private gardens.

Northern Ireland Shopping

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Huw Evans picture agency

In Northern Ireland, garden centres and recycling centres can reopen, if social distancing measures can be maintained.

Drive-in cinemas and drive-in music events are also allowed.

Pubs, cinemas, gyms, non-essential retail stores and hairdressers must still remain closed.

In the Republic of Ireland shops that are primarily outdoor-based can reopen. This includes garden centres, hardware stores and farmers’ markets, provided they can enforce social distancing.

Opticians, homeware shops, motor and bicycle retail and repair businesses, office product retailers, electrical stores, IT businesses and phone shops and repairers will also be able to open again.

There have been no significant changes to the rules in England, with the exception of those workers who cannot work from home being encouraged to return.

Northern Ireland Schools

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Pacemaker

Stormont ministers had already ruled out a return of schools before the summer, with Education Minister Peter Weir saying he believed a phased return would not happen until September.

That would tie in with the start of a new educational year.

There are therefore no changes proposed for phase one.

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Media captionCoronavirus lockdown plan in NI ‘could move to phase one soon’

Remote learning will still take place and plans are being worked out that would look at reducing the numbers of pupils in class sizes.

The Republic of Ireland intends to begin a phased reopening on schools on 10 August, in measures included in the last step of its five-stage recovery plan, with creches and pre-schools potentially returning sooner, on 20 July.

In England, primary schools may be able to re-open “in stages” from 1 June at the earliest.

The government says it is also an “ambition” to give secondary pupils doing exams next year some time with their teachers before the summer holidays.

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