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Now's the time to unite as never before so stay at home to save lives

Arlene Foster and Michelle O'Neill



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First Minister Arlene Foster and deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill, pictured at the Northern Ireland Executive’s daily press update on the response to the Covid-19 crisis in the Long Gallery, Parliament Buildings, Stormont, Belfast.
Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

First Minister Arlene Foster and deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill, pictured at the Northern Ireland Executive’s daily press update on the response to the Covid-19 crisis in the Long Gallery, Parliament Buildings, Stormont, Belfast. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press E

First Minister Arlene Foster

First Minister Arlene Foster

PA

Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill

Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill

PA

First Minister Arlene Foster and deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill, pictured at the Northern Ireland Executive’s daily press update on the response to the Covid-19 crisis in the Long Gallery, Parliament Buildings, Stormont, Belfast. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

We are at a crucial time in the fight against coronavirus.

Very sadly, five people here have now lost their lives to this disease and our sympathies are with the loved ones of those individuals.

This is a stark reminder of the gravity of the situation that is upon us.

Coronavirus is spreading across our communities.

There will be dark and difficult days ahead, but we can get through this if each and every one of us takes action now. We all need to pull together to make sure our health services are not overwhelmed by a surge in patient numbers.

This is an opportunity we will never have again to flatten the curve.

We cannot stop this virus, but everything we are asking you to do is about slowing it down, protecting those most at risk in our community.

Our actions now will have a direct impact on the pressure in our health service and its ability to cope with this crisis. Our actions now can protect the most vulnerable and our health workers. Our actions now can save lives.

So please choose to stay at home. Choose to wash your hands frequently for 20 seconds. Choose to save lives.

We are both busy mothers with families of our own. We know how worrying this time is for everyone, and we also know how difficult it is to stick to these measures, but they are absolutely necessary.

If you are not one of our heroic workers in healthcare, or involved in the delivery of essential services, then think before you step out the door.

Do you really need to go to the shops or can it wait? Our food supply arrangements are robust. They are made stronger when people show restraint and allow others a fair share.

Panic-buying and bulk-buying only serves to leave vulnerable people without.

Of course it's right to want to be in the fresh air and get exercise, but let everyone have a turn, go out once a day and keep your distance.

If you need to get prescriptions or other vital goods for those who are unable, keep trips to a minimum.

We all have a personal responsibility to get behind this effort. We appeal to young people and their parents, please do the right thing. None of us will get another chance at this.

Emergency powers will allow us to enforce measures to ensure people stick to the rules, but we should not have to use them.

Our whole community must unite as never before.

That is what we in the Executive are doing. We are working right across government and society to do everything we can to beat this.

This is an anxious time, we know, for many people - particularly the elderly and those with underlying health conditions. The best protection we can offer them is staying away. Keep in touch and provide whatever support you can from afar.

We know that coronavirus will cost more lives. We also know that by taking action and following the advice, together, we can reduce deaths by up to a third. Each death caused by this disease will bring devastation to their family, friends and loved ones. Don't bring that hurt to another person's door. Stay at home.

Please be part of the fightback against Covid-19.

Please help us to save lives. Please stay at home.

Belfast Telegraph