Stormont minister agree lockdown exit plan

Keeping the reproductive rate of the virus below 1 will be a guiding principle.
Stormont minister agree lockdown exit plan

Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill will outline the details on the floor of the Assembly later on Tuesday afternoon. Picture: PA

Stormont ministers have agreed a phased plan for taking Northern Ireland out of lockdown.

Ministers approved the final version of the much-anticipated strategy at a meeting on Tuesday afternoon, the PA news agency understands.

They had earlier asked officials to make some minor amendments to the plan before reconvening at 12.30pm to rubber-stamp the document.

Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill will outline the details on the floor of the Assembly later on Tuesday afternoon on behalf of her and First Minister Arlene Foster.

First Minister Arlene Foster, right, and deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill (Liam McBurney/PA)

It is understood the plan focuses on nine key areas – retail; hospitality; education and young people; work; culture, heritage and entertainment; sports and leisure; travel and tourism; worship and ceremonies; home and community.

Each will emerge from lockdown in stages. It is understood the stages are lockdown; cautious first steps; gradual easing; further easing; and preparing for the future.

Ministers have already made clear the blueprint will be led by data, not dates, with decisions on when to move between stages based on scientific and medical evidence, not the calendar.

Keeping the reproductive rate of the virus below 1 will be a guiding principle.

The Executive will review the progress of the pathway at set points, understood to be every four weeks.

PA understands that the plan will state: “Progress through the phases will be based on a range of evidence and will seek to balance the benefits for us with the potential impact on the transmission of the virus.

“This means we may be in different phases across the nine pathways at any given time.”

Northern Ireland’s lockdown and accompanying stay-at-home message is currently in place until April 1.

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