NI takes first steps out of lockdown as 350,000 pupils return to school and we are asked to ‘stay local’

Northern Ireland’s stay-at-home order has been lifted after being in place for more than three months, as further Covid lockdown restrictions ease.

Monday, 12th April 2021, 7:36 am

Now people have been told to “stay local” and continue to work from home where they can.

Restrictions are eased as 350,000 pupils in NI return to school - some for the first time this year.

First Minister Arlene Foster has said the latest steps forward on the pathway out of restrictions are good news for our society.

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A classroom

Welcoming the milestone of more than one million vaccines administered across the region, Arlene Foster and Michelle O’Neill said this is a significant day that gives us all hope for the future.

The First Minister and deputy First Minister welcomed the full return of students to school from today, as well as the additional relaxations coming into effect, including:

Up to 10 people (including children) from two households can meet outdoors in a private garden.

Up to 15 people (including coaches) can take part in structured outdoor sports training, through clubs or individuals affiliated to recognised sports governing bodies or representative organisations for sport and physical activity.

The number permitted to attend marriages, civil partnerships and funerals, will be informed by a risk assessment for the venue.

Contactless ‘click and collect’ is permitted for all retail.

Outdoor retail (as defined in the regulations) is permitted to reopen.

Potential marriage and civil partnership customers may view the facilities of venues used for marriages and civil partnerships, such as hotels and other venues, restricted to a maximum of four customers per visit.

The ‘stay at home’ provision has been removed from legislation. A ‘stay local’ and ‘work from home’ message is in place.

First Minister Arlene Foster said: “This is a milestone day that signals our confidence in the way ahead. Today all of our schoolchildren can return to the classroom; more friends and family members can meet up outdoors and those facing a life event can take comfort and support from the presence of their loved ones.

“We are seeing a steady reduction in the health risk indicators and strong progress from our vaccine programme with more than one million vaccines administered across Northern Ireland. These combined with our expanded test, track and protect services will power us along our pathway to recovery.”

Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said: “This is a hugely significant day as we take some more important steps forward on our pathway out of restrictions. We should all take heart from this progress, which is good news for young people, sports, families, business and communities.

“Passing the landmark of one million vaccines is incredibly encouraging. The success of our vaccination programme and the reduction in new positive cases, particularly among vaccinated groups, gives us real hope that we are slowly making our way out of this pandemic and moving towards better times for us all.”

The next formal review of the Coronavirus regulations will be carried out on April 15.