NI lockdown: Arlene Foster promises reopening plan in next 10 days, but DUP leader warns progress will be slow

A plan for recovery from the coronavirus pandemic will be brought to the Northern Ireland Executive in 10 days, First Minister Arlene Foster has said.

First Minister Arlene Foster.

Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
First Minister Arlene Foster. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

Last year, as the first lockdown began to be eased, a five-step ‘pathway to recovery’ was published that set out how Northern Ireland could be opened up again – beginning with measures such as increasing the permitted size of outdoor gatherings and ending with the return of many aspects of a normal society.

Yesterday, Mrs Foster said a “framework” would be brought to the Executive on March 1.

“We believe the best way to win this stage of our battle with Covid-19 is to dig in, to secure the position we hold, and then to slowly move forward to reopen all of society,” the first minister said.

“We will do that with all of your help and on the first of March, the deputy first minister and I will publish the decision-making framework for our pathway to recovery.”

She continued: “We have begun that journey, absolutely. We are on our way – slower, maybe, than we would have liked but I think steadily.

“Importantly, we do not want to have to step back again into a lockdown.”

Meanwhile, the Department of Health has announced a further extension to the coronavirus vaccination programme to include all carers aged over 50. This follows an earlier announcement that some carers would now be included in the roll-out.