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Marriage ceremonies for terminally ill to be allowed as Executive announces relaxation of lockdown measures

Executive to allow garden centres and household recycling centres to open next week

Marriage ceremonies for the terminally ill will be allowed to go ahead from Monday as the lifting of the coronavirus lockdown regulations enters its early stages.

Speaking at Thursday's Covid-19 daily press conference, First Minister Arlene Foster also confirmed that garden centres and household recycling centres will be allowed to open from the start of next week. Ornamental plant nurseries will also be allowed to open on Monday.

It comes as First Minister Arlene Foster revealed that the R rate (the rate of the spread of infection) has now gone below 0.7.

On Tuesday, the Stormont Executive released its five-stage plan as to how Northern Ireland will exit the lockdown measures.

Speaking on Thursday, DUP leader Mrs Foster said: “The Executive met today to assess where we are in terms of our battle against Covid-19 and to consider what restrictions might be lifted as we start to move towards recovery and renewal.

“On the basis of the latest scientific and medical advice, the Executive has approved the following measures - from next Monday garden centres and ornamental plant nurseries will be allowed to open their doors to customers, of course with the proper social distancing measures in place.

“Ministers are also content that household recycling centres should be open to the public and that the disposal of household waste at those sites should be added to the list of what constitutes an appropriate reason for travel.

“Finally, the Executive has agreed that marriage ceremonies for the terminally ill should be allowed to proceed for couples where one of the party or close family member has only a short time left.

"Delaying the marriage is not really an option and we very much recognise that today.”

Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill added: “The changes to the restrictions that we have agreed today have been considered in detail and have been informed by scientific and medical advice.

“We must remember that the regulations are in place to save lives and the Executive does not take decisions on whether to maintain or indeed to relax the restrictions lightly.”

Belfast Telegraph