The Executive cannot legislate its way out of the Covid-19 pandemic, Junior Ministers Declan Kearney and Gordon Lyons have said.
Instead, there needs to be a wider societal effort so that everyone follows the public health advice to keep themselves and others as safe as possible.
The Ministers today reiterated the Executive’s commitment to work in partnership with civic and business leaders in the months ahead.
The Ministers saw the efforts being made by the retail sector to keep their staff and customers safe when they visited a Lidl store in the Greater Belfast area today.
Minister Kearney said: “We are now through the mid-point of the emergency intervention the Executive introduced to halt the spread of Coronavirus across the community.
“Thankfully, because of the efforts of many people across society in following the public health advice, the rate of infection is beginning to slow. That is good news but there is much more to do in the months ahead.
“Covid-19 is going to be with us for some time and until a vaccine is found, we have to do everything we can to keep ourselves, and each other, safe.
“We want maximum community buy-in. That requires a huge societal effort, with everyone playing their part and following the public health advice.”
The Junior Ministers are leading the Executive’s engagement programme with different sectors across society.
Minister Lyons said: “It’s clear that the retail sector is taking its responsibilities very seriously and has invested heavily to keep their staff and customers safe. They have stepped up and shown great leadership and a willingness to work in partnership with the Executive during these most challenging of times.
“The Executive has enjoyed positive engagement with the retail sector and there is a shared understanding that everyone has a part to play in the fight to limit the spread of this deadly virus.
“We cannot legislate our way through Covid and we need everyone in society to play their small part in following the public health advice, and in doing so making a massive difference to how we can all live with the virus.
“That’s what the majority of people are doing in our towns and cities across Northern Ireland. But to those in the minority who think the rules don’t apply to them, then they need to know that they do and if they continue to flout the rules, then they face the consequences.”
Aodhan Connolly, Northern Ireland Retail Consortium Director, welcomed the partnership approach and urged the public to support the efforts of retailers.
He said: “This has been a difficult time for everyone in the retail sector. We take our responsibilities to our staff, customers and wider society incredibly seriously and that commitment to do the right thing has resulted in significant investment in stores to keep everyone safe.
“That investment is right across the sector, from the large multi-national retailer to the small independent trader. They have all done what is needed during this most challenging period.
“We have created Covid compliant stores and while the shopping experience is different at the minute, it is still enjoyable. As retailers we would ask everyone to continue to do the right thing – to wash your hands, wear your face covering, keep your distance from others and follow the signs in our stores.
“Continue to be kind to our staff and get behind the efforts to create a continuous culture of compliance so that we all have as normal a life as possible in these most challenging of times.”
Notes to editors:
- The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for media enquiries between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.