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Coronavirus: Executive announces further easing of lockdown measures

  • Six further deaths as NI death toll rises to 482
  • UK adds loss of smell and taste to Covid-19 symptoms
  • NI takes first steps out of lockdown as garden centres and recycling centres reopen

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Customers chat as they social distance waiting to enter Dundonald Nurseries in Belfast as Garden Centre's in Northern Ireland reopen after the lockdown.  PA Photo: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

Customers chat as they social distance waiting to enter Dundonald Nurseries in Belfast as Garden Centre's in Northern Ireland reopen after the lockdown. PA Photo: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

PA

Customers chat as they social distance waiting to enter Dundonald Nurseries in Belfast as Garden Centre's in Northern Ireland reopen after the lockdown. PA Photo: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

The Executive has implemented further easing of the coronavirus lockdown measures allowing bigger outdoor gatherings, private worship in churches and golf courses to open.

First Minister Arlene Foster also said she was shocked to see the Belfast Telegraph report on the parties at a city centre apartment complex.

Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill said big gatherings of people were "killing people".

Gatherings of up to six people from different households can also meet outdoors.

Private worship at churches will be allowed, after being deemed "low risk" from spreading the virus, however normal church services will not be allowed.

"Drive-in" church services can also go ahead, as will drive-in cinemas, theaters and concerts. Golf courses will also reopen.

First Minister Arlene Foster urged people to act with common sense and continue to social distance and to adhere to hygiene measures.

She said she would have liked to unlock all of stage one of the plan out of lockdown but medical advice did not allow it. She said that while it was disappointing, the matter would be kept under review. She said they hoped to allow small weddings to resume.

"These have been hard won freedoms and when you do exercise those freedoms, it is important no one else is put at risk," Arlene Foster said.

Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill noted it was two months since the first death was reported. She said there had been much progress since, but "we are not out of the woods yet".

"Public compliance and support has held firm and there is no doubt people have showed patience at this difficult time," she said, "going forward, our whole society will be alert to spreading the virus."

Ms O'Neill said the relaxations of restrictions announced are aimed at giving people hope there is light at the end of the tunnel.

The establishment of a graduate entry Medical School at Ulster University’s Magee campus was also announced,

Earlier it was announced there have been six further Covid-19 deaths in Northern Ireland. It brings the Northern Ireland death toll to 482 people.

Northern Ireland also took its first tentative steps out of the coronavirus lockdown on Monday.

Garden centres and recycling facilities reopened, angling is also allowed again while marriage ceremonies involving someone with a terminal illness can take place.

Check out our live blog below to see how Monday's developments unfolded.

Belfast Telegraph