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How Northern Ireland hopes to slowly emerge from coronavirus lockdown

Social distancing


Social distancing is set to remain for the forseeable future (Yui Mok/PA)

Social distancing is set to remain for the forseeable future (Yui Mok/PA)


Social distancing is set to remain for the forseeable future (Yui Mok/PA)

Social distancing is the constant and consistent message throughout the Northern Ireland Executive's roadmap out of lockdown.

The public is urged to follow the social distancing guidelines and stay two metres away from those outside your household whenever possible.

In the later step five sections of the plan, social distancing remains present.


The Executive's roadmap asks the public to 'consider' the use of cloth face coverings (mouth and nose) for short periods of time when you are in enclosed spaces where social distancing cannot be maintained. For example when using public transport and while in some shops.


The Executive has said it is considering the use of surveillance technology to combat coronavirus - including the contact tracing app.

It says: "The Executive will take account of measures to reduce transmission, including the increased availability of testing, the use of surveillance or tracking methodology and contact tracing for those who test positive for coronavirus or who meet an appropriate clinical case definition.

"Where IT solutions, such as apps, can assist, we will use them and encourage you to do the same. However, no matter how good such apps are, they will have limited value unless used widely across society."


The first move will see school provision expanded to cover a wider definition of key workers as workplace activity increases.

There will be a blended learning approach by step 3 involving a combination of in-school and remote learning as schools expand provision to accommodate a number of priority cohorts.

By step 4, schools will aim to accommodate all pupils on a part-time basis with the same blended learning approach.

Finally, the education sector will expand early year school provision to a full-time basis.


Churches will see a staged return. In step one of the roadmap, the Executive says the first plans for churches will be drive-through church services and buildings will open for private prayer with appropriate social distancing and cleaning of shared contact hard surfaces.

By step four, church services will be allowed subject to social distancing and other factors.

The Executive also urges those with responsibility to exercise them in line with the public health guidance of the day.


Public transport is operating currently with limited capacity to allow for social distancing.

But the Executive's reinforced message throughout its plan for travel is that people should walk or cycle where possible.

It says reducing and staggering demand through continued home working and staggered start times for businesses would assist as social distancing requirements remain in place.

Eventually public transport will be operating a full service - but the message on walking and cycling remains.

Going out

Restaurants, cafes and pubs will be among the last places to open - and will function on a limited basis to begin with. Before that, hairdressers and other contact retail outlets such as fitness studios will be allowed to open.

Among the first places to open will be garden centres - but their cafes/restaurants will be restricted.

Nightclubs and concerts will be allowed on a limited basis in the final step.


By the final step of the roadmap, the Executive sees spectators allowed to attend live events on a restricted basis.

There will be a return to competitive sport and the resumption of close physical contact sports.

Belfast Telegraph