Northern Ireland Executive sets out pathway for easing of restrictions - 02/03/2021
On Tuesday 2 March, the Northern Ireland Executive announced details of the pathway out of national lockdown. Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill described the plan as “cautious and hopeful”.
Unlike England, the Executive’s plan does not include dates for the lifting of various restrictions.
The strategy ‘Moving forward: The Executive’s pathway out of restrictions' sets out a step-by-step approach which includes the expansion of the test, track and protect systems to target localised outbreaks and identify and respond to new variants of the virus.
The flexible framework outlines nine pathways each of which has five phases detailing the level of restrictions required during this period. This means that Northern Ireland may be in different phases across the nine pathways at any given time.
The process of returning young people to schools will begin with phase 1 on Monday March 8; and phase 2 on March 22. The nine pathways are sector based and include:
• Home and community
• Sport and leisure
• Worship and ceremonies
• Travel and tourism
• Culture, heritage and entertainment
The pathway begins with step one which is effectively lockdown - where home working remains the default position. Then, in step two, there is a relaxation on workplace attendance. In subsequent steps workplace conferences can resume.
For the retail sector, step one means that only essential retail can remain open. In subsequent steps, click and collect can resume together with all non-essential retail.
In step one outdoor exercise is only permitted with your household or with one other person. In step two, outdoor sports facilities can re-open. As the pathway progresses, indoor facilities can reopen.
The Executive says it will engage with businesses in the relevant sectors as part of its four-weekly reviews. The first of these reviews will be held on 16 March, with subsequent reviews set to take place on 15 April, 13 May and 10 June.
These should not be viewed as dates on which the Executive will move to lift certain restrictions; rather, they are dates that have been identified to examine all relevant indicators.
British Marine members in Northern Ireland should read the strategy to help them understand and prepare for the various stages.