Some cheer for Northern Ireland as we head into summer with reopening dates out of lockdown

News Letter editorial of Saturday April 17 2021:

Saturday, 17th April 2021, 9:12 am
Updated Saturday, 17th April 2021, 10:10 am
News Letter editorial

This week Stormont finally gave dates for the reopening of key types of business.

After an agonisingly slow political response to the improving health situation, driven by the UK’s vaccine rollout success, on Thursday ministers in the executive said that hairdressers will be among the services to open next Friday.

Outdoor hospitality and gyms will follow the week after that, when 15 people will be allowed to meet in a garden.

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By late May, indoor hospitality will follow, although this latter re-opening will be dependent on the data.

For most of the last year Northern Ireland has been in some form of lockdown and without normal schooling.

The restrictions have worst had the worst economic impact on people employed in certain sectors; the worst lifestyle impact on people who cannot work from home; the worst psychological impact on people who do not have gardens or who lack social networks or are in unhappy relationships; and the worst educational impact on pupils who do not have supportive guardians or access to computers.

Covid remains a real risk. People should strive to maintain social distancing even if they have had their jab. A return to normality should not mean fully normal behaviour.

The problem is that the lockdown has been so long-lasting and has caused such wide-ranging damage of its own that if goes on much longer there is a real risk it could inflict as much harm on society as the virus itself.

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