Northern Ireland’s 5-Step Plan To Ease Restrictions Has No Timeline!!

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Northern Ireland's Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill and & First Minister Arlene Foster

The North’s Deputy First Minister hopes coronavirus restrictions can be eased in the “not too distant future“.

The Stormot executive’s published a 5-stage plan for lifting the lockdown – but no timeline’s been set out.

Groups of up to six can meet up from phase 1 while drive-through church services and cinemas will be allowed.

School won’t be back in school until phase 4 – while restaurants, cafes and pubs will stay shut until phase 5.

The Stormont executive published a slower, more cautious strategy than Downing Street’s plan for England. Ministers rejected Boris Johnson’s “stay alert” slogan, which has been widely criticised as confusing nonsense, and also decided against setting projected dates for loosening restrictions.

The plan broadly aligned Northern Ireland with Scotland and Wales, which have also rejected Downing Street’s Johnson’s new messaging.

“We will not be driven by a timetable and we know some will be disappointed by that, but our roadmap doesn’t answer every query, it provides people with an indication of how things might move in the weeks and months ahead,” said Arlene Foster, the first minister and Democratic Unionist party (DUP) leader.

Michelle O’Neill, the deputy first minister and Sinn Féin deputy leader, asked the public for patience. “When we’re in position to slowly and carefully move out of the lockdown, we will keep you updated every step of the way,” she said.

The power-sharing executive last week extended Northern Ireland’s lockdown to 28 May and said it would avoid specifying dates for each of the five stages to have “sufficient flexibility” to modify the plan in line with scientific advice.

Northern Ireland has 438 coronavirus-related deaths,  significantly below that of England per capita but on par with The Republic of Ireland.

Trade Union Unite sounded an alarm bells by saying that a devastating toll in care homes could be repeated in meat-packing plants without mass testing and deep cleaning.

A worker at Moy Park plant in Dungannon died after contracting coronavirus, part of what the union said was a cluster in Co. Tyrone

Critics say authorities in both Belfast and Dublin are paying lip-service to coordination instead of forging an all-island strategy, as happened with foot and mouth in 2001.