Northern Ireland Executive ministers and their officials have over the past 24 hours been involved in a number of initiatives and critical decisions relating to the Coronavirus emergency.
Economy Minister Diane Dodds confirmed today that as the tourism industry emerges from Covid-19 lockdown, it will focus initially on attracting domestic business before targeting international markets.
During the Stormont Coronavirus briefing, the Minister expressed her belief that the tourism industry could adapt successfully to the new circumstances brought about by the virus.
Minister Dodds said: “In line with the Executive’s five-stage plan to come out of lockdown, we are taking steps now to help the economy recover as a whole. This is being done gradually and in stages. Tourism has a vital role to play in this. Tourism recovery will in the first instance begin at home, then focus on close to home markets such as the Republic of Ireland and Great Britain before venturing into international markets.”
The Minister previously announced that, provided the rate of transmission of Covid-19 is not too high, the target dates for re-opening tourist accommodation will be:
- 20 July 2020 – holiday and home parks; caravan sites; self-catering properties. As they are self-contained and may require less advance notice before opening, the opening times for these types of accommodation may be advanced to earlier than 20 July depending on scientific advice;
- 20 July 2020 – guesthouses; guest accommodation; B&Bs; hotels; hostels. The Tourism Steering Group will be asked to work with the sector to explore what facilities and amenities can safely be made available by hotels and recommendations will be brought to the Executive in due course.
She added: “I must stress that this date is conditional on controlling the rate of transmission of the virus. That is why it is as important now as it has ever been for everyone to continue to follow the public health advice.”
Minister Dodds also confirmed that former Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce president Ellvena Graham will chair the recently reconvened Economic Advisory Group, which will consider how the wider economy rebuilds during recovery.
Welcoming the former Head of Ulster Bank’s appointment, the Minister said: “No doubt her experience and expertise across business will be invaluable as we plot our way through the next number of years and prepare for opportunities ahead in future jobs and markets.”
New walking and cycling lanes are to be introduced along Derry~Londonderry’s riverfront enhancing the ability for social distancing following the Covid-19 outbreak, Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon confirmed.
Following the recent rollout of similar measures in Belfast, Minister Mallon revealed the following schemes will be introduced:
- Foyle Riverfront – a series of temporary measures along the riverfront between Queen’s Quay Roundabout to Foyleside Roundabout to enhance social distancing.
- Queen’s Quay - Along Queen’s Quay between Queens Quay Roundabout (near the Council offices) towards Harbour Square roundabout, modifications will be undertaken within both the Council carpark and the public car park to widen the riverside cycleway / footway. Street furniture including benches and planters will also be relocated to provide greater width and improve segregation between pedestrians and cyclists and thereby enhance social distancing.
- Foyle Embankment- Harbour Square Roundabout to Foyleside Roundabout - Along Foyle Embankment from Harbour Square Roundabout to Foyleside Roundabout the nearside south bound traffic lane will be converted to a temporary two-way cycle lane. This work will require sections of the masonry wall which separates the road from the cycle path to be removed.
- Peace Bridge - Advisory signage will be introduced to help pedestrians and cyclists maintain appropriate distances when using the Peace Bridge.
The Minister explained: “I have worked with Derry City & Strabane District Council to identify an effective temporary scheme which takes advantage of the Council’s car park and the existing road network to ensure the popular Riverside route can continue to be used safely by pedestrians and cyclists. These measures will allow the people of Derry to continue to enjoy the riverside walk and cycleway safely whilst maintaining social distancing as we learn to live with the challenges of Covid-19. This is just a first step. I’ll be looking at more options for the City, seeking to maximise its potential, using infrastructure to transform lives for the better.”
Notes to editors:
- The Northern Ireland Executive is producing a regular digest of key initiatives and decisions that have been undertaken by ministers and their Departments relating to the Coronavirus crisis.
- Members of the public are encouraged to check regularly the Public Health Agency, NI Direct, NI Executive and government departmental websites and social media channels for public health advice on how to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 Coronavirus.
- The Coronavirus: Executive Approach to Decision-Making document, which outlines how the Executive is approaching key decisions relating to Covid-19 restrictions on society, is available on The Executive Office website - www.executiveoffice-ni.gov.uk/publications/coronavirus-executive-approach-decision-making
- Current information and advice in relation to Covid-19 can be found on the PHA website at: https://www.publichealth.hscni.net/news/covid-19-coronavirus.
- Patients who have a persistent cough, or high temperature, together with any other members of their household must self-isolate according to the guidance on the PHA website at: https://www.publichealth.hscni.net/news/covid-19-coronavirus#what-should-i-do-if-i-think-i-have-coronavirus and should book a test immediately via can be booked by phoning 119 or through the website nhs.uk/coronavirus. Tests are available for everyone over the age of five.
- The ‘Test, Trace and Protect’ strategy can be accessed via: https://www.health-ni.gov.uk/sites/default/files/publications/health/Test-Trace-Protect-Support-Strategy.pdf
- The Department of Health NI’s Covid-19 NI information app provides people with immediate advice and links to vital trusted information. The app will be updated as the pandemic evolves. Download the Covid-19 NI app - search for Covid-19 NI on the Apple app store and Covid-19 NI on google play. The online version of the app is hosted on a new website https://covid-19.hscni.net.
- A Covid-19 statistical dash board can also be viewed on the Department of Health’s website at: https://app.powerbi.com/view?r=eyJrIjoiMWFhZDgzZDYtMTE4Yi00MTBjLWIzYmQtMTZhYzc1MGEyMTk1IiwidCI6IjljOWEzMGRlLWQ4ZDctNGFhNC05NjAwLTRiZTc2MjVmZjZjNSIsImMiOjh9.
- The Framework for the Wellbeing of Health and Social Care staff can be accessed at the following link: www.publichealth.hscni.net/sites/default/files/2020-04/HSC_Regional%20Staff%20Wellbeing%20Framework.pdf and is based on evidence and best practice guidance and is informed by The British Psychological Society Guidance Paper.
- Psychological Support Help Lines will be staffed by psychologists and psychological therapists who can provide appropriate support throughout the surge phase of the crisis.
- The Helplines will be made available by each Trust to all their staff, to all GP Practices in their area, to all Ambulance staff based in their area and to all independent sector care providers in their area. In this way support is offered to all parts of the system throughout surge.
- The Framework document is supported by resources which are available on the PHA website: www.publichealth.hscni.net/covid-19-coronavirus/guidance-hsc-staff/staff-health-and-wellbeing.
- If you are in distress or despair at any time including the Covid-19 crisis, the 24/7 Lifeline helpline is available on 0808 808 8000 where trained counsellors are available to help you.
- Updated guidance for care homes is available on DoH website at: https://www.health-ni.gov.uk/publications/covid-19-guidance-nursing-and-residential-care-homes-northern-ireland
- Anyone wishing to volunteer for health and social care support roles can do so via: www.hscworkforceappeal.co.uk/.
- The Freephone Covid-19 Community Helpline can be accessed by telephone on 0808 802 0020; email email@example.com or text ACTION to 81025. It is available 7 days a week, 9am to 5pm.
- Statistics on weekly deaths registered in Northern Ireland can be accessed on NISRA’s website at: https://www.nisra.gov.uk/publications/weekly-deaths.
- A list of schools which are open for educational supervision is available on the Department of Education website: www.education-ni.gov.uk/publications/schools-open-supervised-learning-key-workers-children-and-vulnerable-children.
- A link to the guidance on schools clustering is available here: https://www.education-ni.gov.uk/guidance-schools-cluster-arrangements.
- Forms for those applying to provide supervision to vulnerable children and the children of key workers can be accessed from the Department of Education website using the following link: http://apps.education-ni.gov.uk/appc19vol/default.aspx.
- The online application form for small businesses that rent premises is available at: http://www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk/RentalPropertiesandNAVBelow1590.
- Information on the full range of Covid-19 related support for businesses is available at: https://www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk/campaign/coronavirus-updates-support-your-business.
- A £100m rates relief package for businesses was announced on 17 March – https://www.finance-ni.gov.uk/news/covid-19-ps100m-emergency-rates-package-businesses. A copy of the Rates Relief Information policy advice for Minister can be obtained via https://www.finance-ni.gov.uk/publications/policy-advice-minister-rates-relief-information-paper
- The ‘Charting a course for the economy: our first steps’ paper can be accessed at: www.economy-ni.gov.uk/publications/charting-course-economy
- Workplace safety guidance for Northern Ireland businesses is available at https://www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk/content/coronavirus-workplace-safety-guidance-and-priority-sector-list
- Media enquiries should be directed to the relevant department using the following email addresses
The Executive Office: Press.Office@executiveoffice-ni.gov.uk;
Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs: PressOffice.Group@daera-ni.gov.uk;
Department for Communities: Press.Office@communities-ni.gov.uk;
Department of Education: Press.Office@education-ni.gov.uk;
Department for the Economy: PressOffice@economy-ni.gov.uk;
Department of Finance: firstname.lastname@example.org
Department for Infrastructure: Press.Office@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk
Department of Health: PressOffice@health-ni.gov.uk
Department of Justice: Press.Office@justice-ni.x.gsi.gov.uk
- 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.
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