| 11.2°C Belfast

Post-lockdown queues as recycling facilities and garden centres re open

The reopenings came on Monday morning as part of the relaxation measures.

Close

Cars queue to get into Blackstaff Way Recycling Centre in west Belfast (Liam McBurney/PA)

Cars queue to get into Blackstaff Way Recycling Centre in west Belfast (Liam McBurney/PA)

Cars queue to get into Blackstaff Way Recycling Centre in west Belfast (Liam McBurney/PA)

There were queues at recycling facilities and garden centres on Monday as Northern Ireland took its first steps out of the coronavirus lockdown.

Residents were queuing for Palmerston Recycling Centre in east Belfast from 7am, from 7.50am at Blackstaff Way in the west of the city while lines of cars persisted at a facility in Bangor, Co Down throughout the morning.

Close

Cars queue waiting to get into Blackstaff Way Recycling Centre in west Belfast which has opened on Monday after an ease on the lockdown. (Liam McBurney/PA)

Cars queue waiting to get into Blackstaff Way Recycling Centre in west Belfast which has opened on Monday after an ease on the lockdown. (Liam McBurney/PA)

PA

Cars queue waiting to get into Blackstaff Way Recycling Centre in west Belfast which has opened on Monday after an ease on the lockdown. (Liam McBurney/PA)

At Palmerston, Ken Mills had a two hour wait at the top of the queue.

“I got up this morning thinking, I’ll get on the ball here, because I knew it was going to be busy,” Mr Mills told the PA news agency.

“So I’ve had a two-hour wait, but I don’t mind because I am getting rid of a lot of stuff that has been cluttering the garage.

“It wasn’t so much from a clear-out – my daughter moved house and has been buying a lot of furniture and stuff which all comes in a lot of cardboard. She has been storing it in my garage so I had the job of getting rid of it.”

Angling is also allowed again while marriage ceremonies involving someone with a terminal illness can take place.

Close

Josh Trimble greets people to Dundonald Nurseries in Belfast as garden centres in Northern Ireland reopen after the lockdown. (Liam McBurney/PA)

Josh Trimble greets people to Dundonald Nurseries in Belfast as garden centres in Northern Ireland reopen after the lockdown. (Liam McBurney/PA)

PA

Josh Trimble greets people to Dundonald Nurseries in Belfast as garden centres in Northern Ireland reopen after the lockdown. (Liam McBurney/PA)

There was a steady stream of customers at Hillmount Garden Centre and Dundonald Nurseries in Belfast on Monday.

Hilary Hall from Holywood was among those looking at the plants at Hillmount and expressed delight at being able to browse the greenery again.

“I’m here today to look at some plants for the garden that I’ve cleared during lockdown,” she said.

“I bought a lot of bedding plants through the online system so I have all my tubs and baskets done, and I’ve also bought fruit and vegetables from it, which I hadn’t done before.

“I have grown most of them in tubs so I’m now eating my own strawberries and I’m starting to see little sweet peppers come along, and tomatoes. It has been fabulous. It filled many hours during lockdown.”

The relaxations came into effect as it was announced that coronavirus testing is to be offered to all care home residents and staff in the region.

The move by Health Minister Robin Swann comes after mounting calls for universal testing in homes.

Almost half (45%) of Covid-19 related deaths in the region are occurring in care homes, the most recent figures from the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) have shown.

Stormont’s leaders are expected to announce a series of other lockdown relaxations on Monday afternoon, with the region set to formally move to phase one of its five-step exit plan.

Close

People walk past street art supporting the NHS near to the Ulster Hospital on the outskirts of Belfast (Niall Carson/PA)

People walk past street art supporting the NHS near to the Ulster Hospital on the outskirts of Belfast (Niall Carson/PA)

PA

People walk past street art supporting the NHS near to the Ulster Hospital on the outskirts of Belfast (Niall Carson/PA)

Outdoor gatherings of four to six people from outside the same household are expected to be given the go-ahead later, as is the reopening of churches for solitary prayer and drive-in services.

Golf and tennis could also be given the green light in the coming week.

The moves will all depend on the latest scientific and medical evidence.

The coronavirus death toll recorded by Stormont’s Department of Health rose to 476 on Sunday after a further three fatalities were announced.

That total primarily encapsulates deaths in hospitals, so the true toll in the region will be larger, once fatalities registered in the community are factored in.

A technical issue with the department’s reporting system meant the latest numbers of confirmed Covid-19 cases were not announced on Sunday along with the fatalities.

Close

Recycling centres are reopening in Northern Ireland on Monday (PA)

Recycling centres are reopening in Northern Ireland on Monday (PA)

PA

Recycling centres are reopening in Northern Ireland on Monday (PA)

On Saturday, the total of confirmed positive results in the region stood at 4,357.

A meeting of the Stormont executive will convene at noon as ministers discuss the latest moves out of lockdown.

First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill are expected to make an announcement later in the afternoon.

They were informed by their chief scientific and medical advisers on Thursday that it was now appropriate to move to phase one of the plan.

Ministers were told that the Covid-19 infection rate in region (R0) was below 0.7.

The R0, which is the number of people an infected person transmits the disease to, is a crucial consideration in any decision to ease restrictions.

An R0 below one means the virus’s prevalence is gradually decreasing, while a number above one would result in exponential growth.

PA