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Northern Ireland's 'road map' to exit coronavirus lockdown is on hold until Boris Johnson's speech


Road map: Boris Johnson

Road map: Boris Johnson

10 Downing Street/AFP via Getty

Road map: Boris Johnson

A detailed road map to take Northern Ireland out of lockdown is unlikely to be published this week, a senior Stormont source has said — although Sinn Fein wants it tomorrow.

The Executive is expected to wait until after Boris Johnson outlines his UK-wide plans in an address on Sunday.

The source said it would be next week at the earliest when the parties were likely to have agreed a document, outlining in detail potential dates for opening shops and services and relaxing other regulations.

The source said: “We want to provide clarity to the public and lay out a step-by-step approach. But the danger in doing that is that people get it into their heads that lockdown is ending and they take their foot off the pedal and start relaxing.

“We’re in a decent place with Covid-19 but we are very much still in the woods. It’s not the time to not make a dash for the exit.”

The Stormont source said: “The first objective in the plan to put Northern Ireland on the road to recovery must be the protection of life and health. Then, we look at protecting jobs and the economy.”

He added: “We will be waiting to see what Boris Johnson says on Sunday. The most critical factor in the recovery plans of the devolved nations is the future of the job retention scheme, which is the most generous in the world.

“We need to see how the Treasury propose moving forward with that post-30 June. The decision it takes will be critical for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.”

But Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said the Executive should publish its plan tomorrow, rather than wait for the British road map on Sunday.

“The public are awaiting eagerly the publication from the Executive of ‘what is next? What does the next couple of months look like?’

“And for them I want to be able to get us to a position of where we actually publish that plan on Thursday.”

Belfast Telegraph