Churches and other places of worship are now allowed to reopen their doors for acts of individual prayer it has been confirmed.
Speaking at Monday’s Covid-19 daily briefing, First Minister Arlene Foster also stated that drive-in churches, cinemas, concerts and theatrical performances can also go ahead as long as those in attendance stay in their cars and practice social-distancing.
Monday saw the initial stages of lifting the coronavirus lockdown across Northern Ireland as garden and recycling centres were allowed to reopen.
Weddings where one partner or a close family relative has only a short time to live are also permitted to go ahead.
However, family members from different households are not yet allowed to meet indoors, but Mrs Foster gave her “commitment” that that will remain under review.
“Over this last few weeks in what has been a very testing time for our people, individually as well as wider society, people of all faiths have turned to prayer in their homes and have used various digital platforms to stream religious services,” stated the DUP leader.
“The decision to open religious venues for prayer has been deemed sufficiently low risk in terms of Covid-19 but we do urge those who are availing of this service to exercise common sense.
“We will of course keep under review when will be the right time to permit religious services in places of worship where the buildings are big enough to accommodate social distancing but we ask you all to be patient and we will let you know once the scientific and medical advice indicates it’s safe to do so.”
Outdoor activities such as golf and angling have also been given the green light to recommence, while groups of up to six people from different households can meet outdoors with social-distancing in place.
Mrs Foster explained that it is “not the time just yet” to meet other family members indoors.
“We understand that’s going to disappoint some of you but we would ask you to remain patient and trust that this Executive, informed by the most up to date scientific and medical advice, is in the best position to guide you when it’s safe to do so,” she added.
“It is a matter we will constantly review and I give you that commitment.”