Arlene Foster: Lockdown changes in NI will be ‘nuanced’

First Minister, Arlene FosterFirst Minister, Arlene Foster
First Minister, Arlene Foster | other
First Minister Arlene Foster has said any changes to the lockdown measures in Northern Ireland following Boris Johnson’s announcement later today will be nuanced.

Mrs Foster said the reproductive rate of the virus is around 0.8-0.9 in Northern Ireland which led to the lockdown regulations being extended for a further three weeks.

Speaking on Sky’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday, she said: “We will be looking at some nuanced changes throughout that time and we will be looking to see what the Prime Minister has to say later today. But in terms of the Northern Ireland public, I think it is important to continue to protect them and make sure the virus does not start spreading again in the community, that would cause damage in the community.”

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She said a roadmap for the region to exit lockdown will be published this week to deal with the economic recovery and society’s recovery.

“It will look at how we move to the new normal in a graduated way,” she said.

The DUP said the lockdown could be eased in different regions as Northern Ireland’s rate of transmission is higher than other parts of the UK.

Speaking on Sky’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday, she said: “Sage and indeed our own medical officer do acknowledge that there are different rates of transmission across the United Kingdom.

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“There are differences and regional differences across the United Kingdom and I think the PM has to recognises there are regional differences so you may see slight differences across the UK.”

Asked if it is a good idea that the lockdown could be re-applied to different regions if required, she said: “It is important that we do what is right in our region of the United Kingdom moving forward. That is why we are coming forward with our roadmap next week. It will set out how we can take graduated steps back to what will be a different normality.”

She said any return to normality will still feature social distancing.

“It is important that we give hope to people but it is also important that we protect people.”

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Mrs Foster also said she would not like to see the Brexit transition period extended.

Speaking to Sky’s Sophie Ridge On Sunday, she said: “At the moment we are talking to the Government about Brexit. We have a very particular issue around the Ireland/Northern Ireland protocol. We have been engaging with the Paymaster and Michael Gove around that issue.

“It is important that we get clarity for our businesses in Northern Ireland.”

“We should not be distracted by talk of lengthening the transition or anything like that. We need to make sure that we are focused and that we get started for the sake of our businesses in Northern Ireland.”

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