Lifting of restrictions Northern Ireland - Arlene Foster hints that some reopening dates could be brought forward

First Minister, Arlene Foster, has hinted that some of the indicative dates included in the Northern Ireland Executive's recent plan to exit lockdown could be brought forward.

Thursday, 22nd April 2021, 5:46 pm
Updated Thursday, 22nd April 2021, 5:48 pm

Ms. Foster said that any decision to accelerate the easing of restrictions would be dependent on the impact of the already agreed relaxations.

“Last year we were able to bring some dates forward… across the UK, Scotland has been able to bring some dates forward,” she said.

“We have to see what the impact is of relaxations and then make an assessment as to whether we can move dates forward.

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First Minister, Arlene Foster.

“But I have to say people have reacted very well to the announcement last Thursday and I hope that we can step through this, yes in a careful way, but in a way that brings back joy to people because I think people have been very much looking forward to getting out to do the things that they want to do, particularly around sport, meeting their friends and we’re very much pleased that that is happening tomorrow."

Ms. Foster and deputy First Minister, Michelle O'Neill also expressed concern at the lack of progress made with the Irish government concerning passenger locator forms linked to international travellers landing at Dublin International Airport.

“But there have been many reasons given along the way and we just want to see the political will to get it sorted,” she said.

“I was certainly alarmed to hear from the Health Minister (Robin Swann) today that he learned about the Indian variants being in the Republic of Ireland through the press, he didn’t hear about it from his counterpart from the Republic of Ireland, so there should be sharing of that sort of information and it’s something that we very much need to see sorted out in the near future.

“It’s long past the time when we should have sorted out the passenger locator form that’s for sure.”

On the passenger locator data, Michelle O’Neill said: “It has been running on for far too long, for many, many months there’s been an attempt to try and get a resolution.

“There’s been some improvements but nowhere near where it needs to be. So I do hope that there’s a resolution sooner rather than later. And I’m aware that the chief medical officers across the island meet on a Friday every week, so all information should be shared at that conversation and then that should be relayed to us as an executive because the more we are aware of what’s happening across the island then the more we can respond to the pandemic across the island.”

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