Northern Ireland announces a 5 step plan to a lockdown – but no specific timeline
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Northern Ireland announced on Tuesday a five-step plan to ease the coronavirus lockdown, but did not set out dates for each step.
The province’s government, the Northern Ireland Executive, said they “will be led by the science and not by a calendar setting artificial deadlines,” and that their approach “will take account of the trajectory of the pandemic, as well as the best medical and scientific advice available at the time of each review.”
The government said, “steps we are all taking are working and, if we continue to work together, they will enable the restrictions to be relaxed in stages when the time is right.”
Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom but has some degree of self-government, as do Scotland and Wales.
The 12-page document says the stages will be guided by the principles of necessity, proportionality, reliance on evidence, protection of healthcare capacity and control of transmission.
Under Step One, those who cannot work from home will be encouraged to return to work on a phased basis. Large outdoor based retail centers, outdoor spaces and sports amenities will be allowed to reopen. Groups of four to six people not from the same household may meet outdoors maintaining social distance. Drive-through church services will operate and worshippers will have access to the church for private worship.
Under Step Two non-food retail stores may reopen provided they apply social distancing measures. the demand for public transport is expected to increase and citizens are encouraged to walk or cycle to alleviate this. The definition of key workers will be expanded allowing further categories of people to return to work. Groups of up to 10 people may meet outdoors. Non-contact sport teams may resume training in small groups and select libraries and open air museums may open. Indoor activities between two to four people will be permitted for a period of 10 minutes.
Under Step Three there will be a phased return of office workers but work that can be done at home should be done there. Schools may begin to welcome prioritized students on a part-time basis alternating part time and remote learning. Gatherings of up to 30 people will be held with social distancing. Museums, galleries, concerts resume. Indoor activities for short periods permitted for larger groups.
Under Step Four contact retail including hairdressers and tattoo parlors may reopen. Schools will reopen to all students incorporating remote and in-school teaching. Businesses will be encouraged to stagger start times to offset increased public transport demand. Church services may resume, outdoor professional sport fixtures may take place behind closed doors and outdoor concerts will be held on a restricted basis. Indoor and outdoor gatherings of large groups must last under 10 minutes with social distancing measures.
Under Step Five all citizens are permitted to return to work with hospitality businesses allowed to reopen. Schools return on full time basis. Full public transport service will operate. Extended groups may meet subject to social distancing or other mitigation measures. Nightclubs reopen, concerts resume and close physical contact sports returns. Large indoor gatherings of people where social distance not maintained likely.
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