The Northern Ireland Executive has agreed a five-step plan for easing Covid-19 restrictions across nine sectors of life and the economy.
The Executive’s lockdown roadmap – entitled Moving Forward: The Executive's Pathway Out of Restrictions - sets out the five-step sequencing to gradually lift restrictions on each of those sectors.
Unlike plans in the rest of the UK, Northern Ireland’s plan does not include any specific dates, instead using various factors of health data to judge the progress of the virus.
The health factors for easing the lockdown include the infection rate of the virus, known as the R number, the number of people in hospital, vaccine rollout and progress in testing and tracing positive cases.
Unlocking will also depend on the potential emergence of new variants and the capacity in the health service to carry out non-Covid treatment.
Alongside health, the Executive said decisions would also be taken based on the mental health and wellbeing of those in the community, the education of young people and also the impact on businesses and employers.
There will also be a rolling review every four weeks, in line with how the regulations are currently reviewed. The first review is scheduled for March 16. The final review date is scheduled to be June 10. These are however subject to change.
Under the Executive’s plan, Primary 1 to Primary 3 school children will still return to school on March 8, with all other children scheduled to return after Easter.
Each of the nine sectors detailed in the plan will emerge from lockdown in specific stages. These stages are: lockdown; cautious first steps; gradual easing; further easing; and then preparing for the future.
The nine sectors in the plan include: home and community, sport and leisure, worship and ceremonies, education and young people, culture and entertainment, hospitality, work, retail and finally travel and tourism.
Detailed within each sector is the restrictions that will ease as Northern Ireland progresses through each step. The roadmap also gives examples of the types of activities that may be permitted at each point of the plan.
The Executive has faced criticism for it is plan, described as being "vague" and "clear as mud.
Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill, however, described the plan as “steady and sustainable” and said those wanting to move faster should “get real”.
“I think the pathway that has been published gives us a way out of the period of lockdown and gives us a way forward that mitigates against the danger of rolling back,” she told the BBC.
“The transmission of the virus is coming down, but it is coming down from a high base. The signs are all good, but that can quickly change.
“We are not going to give people false hope and false dawns around dates we can't deliver on.
“I feel like this is a very honest pathway out of the restrictions and gives us the best chance not to go into reverse.
“I understand the frustration of people. I am like everybody else, not seeing my family either."
She added: "We have set out a range of things we need to look at [before easing]. The ‘R’ remaining under one. The vaccination programme continuing at pace. The health service being under the capacity. We are in a good position at the moment, but we still are in danger.”
After the publication of the document on Tuesday, the First Minister Arlene Foster said it must be the “last lockdown” and suggested it is possible restrictions could be eased at a quicker pace, with her view that the DUP would have come up with a different plan.
Michelle O’Neill stressed that the plan was a “collective agreement” between all ministers and warned those who call for a quicker reopening to “get real”.
“The worst thing that could happen is that things are opened far too quickly and we end up in reverse in a matter of weeks," she said.
“I have never deviated or tried to alter the public health advice that has come forward. It is actually one party throughout the pandemic that has tried to push too far. Steady calm leadership is what is required.”
Home and Community
Contact limited to own household and support bubble
Up to six from two households can meet outdoors not at a private dwelling
Up to six people from two households can meet outdoors at a private dwelling
Up to 10 people from two households can meet outdoors not at a private dwelling
Stay at home messaging relaxed
Up to six people from two households can meet indoors in a private dwelling
Increased numbers allowed for organised gatherings not at a private dwelling
Restricted numbers allowed indoors not at a private dwelling
Up to 10 from two households can meet indoors and outdoors in private dwellings
No household limits on meeting outdoors not at a private dwelling
Overnight stays allowed
Increased numbers allowed indoors not at a private dwelling
Households limits lifted in private dwellings
Organised outdoors gatherings are limited only by risk assessment and mitigations
School buildings closed except for vulnerable and key workers' children
Higher and Further Education students and apprentices - essential face-to-face learning permitted
Special schools, EOTAS (Education Other Than At School) and childcare open
Targeted youth services and interventions
Partial return to classroom teaching
Remote and online learning remains an option
Partial return to practical face-to-face learning for Further Educations students and apprentices
Partial re-opening of generic youth services
Full return to classroom teaching for schools
Wider range of outdoor learning has resumed
Extended Schools activity has resumed
Further re-opening of generic youth services
Increased face-to-face teaching for HE and FE students, and apprentices
Inter-schools sport allowed
School clubs, FE colleges and university student extra-curricular and support activities and youth services resume
FE colleges and universities moves towards more face-to face teaching
Spectators allowed at school sports and performance events
Remote working is the default position
Those who cannot work from home can attend work
Relaxation of restrictions on workplace attendance
Working from home where possible remains the recommended approach
Phased return to on-site work and office spaces
Seminars and meetings can take place
Revised risk assessments allow more workplaces to reopen
Work conferences can resume
Workplaces fully reopen
Essential retail only
Non-essential retail is closed, including click-and-collect
All close contact services closed
Curfew on alcohol off-sales
Click-and-collect for non-essential retail allowed
Driving lessons and tests can resume
All non-essential retail now open
Off-sales curfew lifted
Close-contact services can resume, with mitigations
All close-contact services open without appointments, with remaining mitigations
Increased in-store capacity in all retail
All retail and close contact services open with reduced mitigations
All hospitality closed, except for takeaway sales
23:00 GMT takeaway curfew
Curfews lifted on takeaway
Premises where alcohol cannot be consumed open with table service, six people from two households
Premises where alcohol can be consumed, excluding wet pubs, open with table service and only people from two households
Wet pubs open with table service, six people from two households
Limited entertainment relaxations
Bar service permitted in wet pubs
Six people from two households rule relaxed to any number
Live entertainment in hospitality venues
25 guest limit at civil partnerships, marriages and funerals
Pre and post-gatherings not permitted
Return to services in places of worship with a risk assessment
Increased numbers at indoor and outdoor civil partnerships, marriages and funerals with a risk assessment
Receptions can take place with mitigations and limited numbers
Pre and post-funeral gatherings can take place, with mitigations and limited numbers
No upper limit on numbers for pre and post-gatherings for civil partnerships, marriages and funerals, determined by venue risk assessment
Limited live music at receptions
Further mitigations relaxed for pre and post-gatherings for civil partnerships, marriages and funerals
Live music, entertainment and dancing at receptions
Outdoor exercise with own household or one other person - stay in local area
Training and competition for elite athletes permitted
Outdoor sports facilities re-open for training and organised group activities
Outdoor competitive sport can resume with no spectators
Leisure centres and all indoor sports facilities reopen, including swimming pools and gyms
Indoor group activities and classes resume
Leisure activity venues reopen, including soft play
Limited number of outdoor spectators allowed
Limited number of indoor spectators allowed
Further outdoor spectators allowed
Further indoor spectators allowed
Indoor and some outdoor visitor attractions closed
All indoor seated venues closed
Theatres and concert venues open for rehearsal and recording
All outdoor visitor attractions reopen
Indoor visitor attractions, including heritage sites reopen
Low-risk activities including organised rehearsal and practice can take place
Seated venues including theatres, concert venues and cinemas reopen
Amateur and youth performance activity can take place, with mitigations
Outdoor organised events can take place, with limited numbers
Larger outdoor organised events, concerts and festivals can take place
Public transport with safety measures in place
All tourist accommodation closed, with exceptions
Essential travel only
Public transport capacity increases in line with demand, within limits of social distancing requirements
Caravan sites open, but shared facilities remain closed
Hotels, guest houses and B&Bs reopen, with mitigations
Public transport returns to full service, with mitigations
Hostels, bunkhouses, campsites and other accommodation with shared facilities open
Campus accommodation for tourism purposes open
Hotels can offer wider range of services beyond accommodation and meals
Public transport running at full service with reduced mitigations
Preparing for the full return of leisure travel.