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Coronavirus: All shops to open tomorrow as NI Executive announces further relaxations of lockdown

Retailers in Northern Ireland can open their shops from Friday the First and deputy First Minister announced in a further easing of lockdown restrictions.

The relaxation includes indoor shopping malls. All retailers must ensure adequate social distancing and hygiene measures are in place to protect customers and staff.

However, close-contact services such as hairdressers and driving instructors are not covered by the announcement and must remain closed.

Mrs Foster said there had been significant progress in the battle against Covid-19, but added “we must continue to be cautious’ as there is still a risk of a second wave of infection.

The First Minister said the NI Executive would also consider next week whether to bring forward dates for the reopening of caravan parks, and hotels, restaurants and other hospitals businesses.

She also said that the coronavirus regulations would be amended to permit the Northern Ireland housing market to reopen from Monday coming, the 15th of June.

All aspects of buying a house will be permitted from viewing a property to securing and mortgage and moving home.

On childcare, the press conference heard that ministers have agreed that church halls and community centres will be permitted to open to provide daycare services from Friday 12 June.

The First Minister said a larger piece of work on formal and informal childcare arrangements is being finalised by the Department of Health and the Department of Education.

The limit on the number of people who can meet outdoors has been raised from six to 10 - provided there is social distancing between people who do not share the same household.

Elite athletes will also be able to use outdoor training facilities from Monday.

Turning to the question of indoor visits, the ministers confirmed that people who live alone - some 30% of the population- can from Saturday 13th of June form a small support unit or ‘bubble’ with one other household to tackle social isolation.

“This would permit the person to visit, to stay over, and spend more time with their support network,” Mrs Foster said.

“We hope to build on this first step when we review the situation again next Monday, with a view to enabling contact indoors between different households.”

Both Mrs Foster and Mrs O’Neill thanked the Northern Ireland public for their commitment in fighting the coronavirus, but emphasised that the battle was not yet won.

“We have reason to be optimistic,” deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said - “but this is not the time to let our guard down.”

A formal review of the coronavirus regulations is to be completed by the NI Executive next Thursday.

Belfast Telegraph