NI Executive lockdown announcement to span months and will include dates says Michelle O'Neill

Deputy First Minister, Michelle O'Neill, has said she is confident the Northern Ireland Executive will tomorrow sign off on an array of indicative dates and a blueprint for the reopening of the local economy that will span months.

Wednesday, 14th April 2021, 4:36 pm

The Executive will meet on Thursday during which it is anticipated ministers will agree on indicative dates for non-essential retail and close contact services such as hairdressers, barbers and beauty salons.

There is speculation that Monday April 26 is the date the Executive will set for the reopening of these services.

Deputy First Minister, Michelle O'Neill was briefing the Stormont Executive Office committee when she suggested the plan will span "months".

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People queue for the first and sometimes second dose of Covid-19 vaccine in the SSE Arena in Belfast.

Ms. O'Neill stopped just short of confirming what the Executive is set to announce but did however hint that people across Northern Ireland should expect "a very hopeful and positive" next step.

“Myself and Arlene have been speaking with officials for some time saying that we wanted to see dates put to this,” said Deputy First Minister O'Neill.

“So I’m glad that now, I’m hopeful actually that tomorrow the Executive will be able to sign off on dates on what it look likes for the next number of months.”

Ms. O'Neill added: “We think we’ll have a very hopeful and positive announcement to make tomorrow.”

The deputy First Minister's hopeful outlook was echoed by Health Minister Robin Swann during a Covid-19 press briefing on Wednesday afternoon.

“I believe that the time is now right for the Executive to proceed with further easing of restrictions, including some indicative dates to let people and businesses look ahead with greater optimism," said Minister Swann.

Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Michael McBride, acknowledged how far Northern Ireland had come since the current lockdown began on December 26, 2020.

"We have made significant progress since the dark days of winter," Dr. Michael McBride said.

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