Businesses welcome latest easing of Northern Ireland’s lockdown

Stormont ministers hope to announce further relaxations later in the week.
Businesses welcome latest easing of Northern Ireland’s lockdown

Business welcomed the return to trading in Northern Ireland today. Picture: Liam McBurney/PA

A business owner has welcomed the latest easing of Northern Ireland’s coronavirus lockdown.

A limited number of outdoor-focused retail outlets, such as garden centres and car dealerships, reopened on Monday, as well as click-and-collect services for non-essential retail, while remaining pupils returned to school.

Stormont ministers hope to announce further relaxations later in the week.

The Nightingale facility at Belfast City Hospital was de-escalated on Monday with remaining Covid patients to be cared for at the Mater.

Northern Ireland Education Minister Peter Weir hailed the full return of all pupils to classes as a “very positive day for young people” during a visit to Sullivan Upper grammar school in Holywood, Co Down.

In Belfast city centre, Stephen Seenan, managing director of print shop Kopyright, welcomed being able to operate click-and-collect services.

“The past year has been quite challenging, to say the least, but we have adapted and today, thankfully, some restrictions are lifted and we’re allowed to open on a click-and-collect basis,” he said.

“We’re hoping to get a bit of custom back again, get people back on the street – they can call and they can email to place their orders.”

Stephen Seenan, Managing Director of Kopyright in Belfast (Liam McBurney/PA)

Earlier deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said progress in tackling Covid-19 had created the opportunity for further lockdown relaxations.

On Monday, no further deaths of patients who had previously tested positive for the virus were reported, and there were fewer than 100 new positive cases.

Ms O’Neill said she was confident the powersharing executive could agree a timetable for the reopening of more sections of society.

First Minister Arlene Foster has already expressed hope that opening dates for close-contact services, such as hairdressers and beauticians, and non-essential retail can be announced following the next meeting of the executive on Thursday.

Arlene Foster receiving her first Covid-19 vaccination last month (Press Eye/PA)

The hospitality sector is also hopeful that it might get some good news, particularly on outdoor trading.

On Monday, the remainder of post-primary students, years eight to 11, returned to schools.

The “stay at home” messaging has been replaced with a “stay local” advice.

At the weekend, Northern Ireland reached the milestone of a million vaccine jabs having been given.

(PA Graphics)

Michelle O’Neill (Rebecca Black/PA)


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