Prime Minister Says Government’s Roadmap is ‘On Track’ – But NI Executive Lags Behind

Prime Minister Boris Johnson says the government's roadmap is on track while NI Executive is yet to make decision on reopening dates for travel and tourism

Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed the roadmap out of lockdown in England is on schedule, while the NI Executive said that they would confirm dates for gradual reopening at its next briefing (April 15).

Mr Johnson said the government will progress to the next stage but it is too early to say if international travel can resume on May 17. The PM said he does however remain hopeful the ban on foreign holidays will be lifted then.

From next week, bars and restaurants across England will be allowed to serve customers in limited numbers outdoors and gyms, hairdressers, and libraries will reopen.

Pubs will be able to serve customers indoors from 17 May.

In a small move forward, the NI Executive agreed that the following relaxations of restrictions would come into effect from April 12, however no mention was made on the reopening of pubs, restaurants, hotels or tourism facilities. The reopening of international travel was also not mentioned:

  • all pupils to return to school
  • increase the number who can meet outdoors in a garden, from six to 10 (including children) from two households
  • the ‘stay at home’ provision in the legislation is to be removed, instead moving to a ‘stay local’ and ‘work from home’ message
  • contactless ‘click and collect’ for all non-essential retail will be allowed
  • outdoor sports training can resume by sports clubs affiliated with recognised sports Governing Bodies, in small groups of up to 15 people but with all indoor spaces closed except essential toilet facilities

Ministers also agreed a range of further relaxations, which will also come into effect on 12 April:

  • To permit potential marriage and civil partnership customers to view the facilities of venues used for marriages and civil partnerships, such as hotels and other venues, restricted to a maximum of four customers per visit.

To reopen outdoor retail, which comprises:

  • New & Used Car Retailers
  • Retailers of Light Motor Vehicles, Lorries & Trailers
  • Retailers of Caravans or Motorhomes
  • Retailers of Agricultural or Other Large Machinery
  • Garden Centres, Plant Nurseries
  • Car Washes

It has also been agreed to extend the provision for up to 15 people (including coaches), as previously agreed, to also include structured outdoor sports training organised by clubs/individuals affiliated to recognised sports governing bodies or representative organisations for sport and physical activity.

The number permitted to attend marriages, civil partnerships and funerals can increase, informed by a risk assessment for the venue.

In a statement, the Executive said: “The decisions made today reflect the Executive’s commitment to addressing the health, societal and economic impact of COVID-19, and while Ministers are committed to a four-week review period, this process also provides flexibility to make gradual easements where it appropriate to do so.”

The next NI Executive review date under the Pathway out of Restrictions is April 15, 2021.