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.
A roadmap promoting a Green Growth recovery from lockdown that develops Northern Ireland’s natural assets was today launched by the Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Minister Edwin Poots.
During a visit to the Blakiston Houston dairy farm in Belfast, which has swapped fossil fuels for renewable energy sources, the Minister claimed the COVID-19 emergency had made people and businesses think and act differently.
In his view, there was now a real opportunity to put sustainability at the heart of the public and private sectors as Northern Ireland emerged from lockdown and focused on achieving the UK Government’s target of Net Zero Carbon by 2050.
Minister Poots argued: “Right now, we are presented with an exceptional opportunity – to make real and long-lasting linkages between the private sector, the public sector and the people, to help us achieve a total generational shift in how we approach our economy and our environment. We must not just defend our environment, we must develop it to maximise the benefits it presents. If we do this well, we create jobs, reduce carbon, enhance profitability, lower waste, increase efficiency and protect our environment and climate for future generations. What’s more, many of the solutions needed are simple, available and require only modest innovation, investment and attention.”
The roadmap sets out plans for a co-designed Green Growth Strategy, a framework of policies fostering the necessary conditions for sustainable business, innovation, investment and competition and also sets out plans for an inter-ministerial group that will weave Green Growth principles through all Government policies.
The Minister said he will consult the entire waste, agriculture, energy, environment, public and private sectors about how Green Growth could be achieved.
He noted: “Many businesses are already thinking green – they are already doing the right thing and reaping the benefits. What they need from us now is support, a clear focus and an achievable roadmap to help them do more. That is what the plan I’ve presented today does.”
At the Executive press briefing on COVID-19, Health Minister Robin Swann today reiterated the importance of everyone remaining on high alert for the potential of Coronavirus to still spread.
Extending his condolences to the family of the latest person to die of COVID-19, Minister Swann said while the incidence of the disease was falling, it would be a mistake to assume the threat had receded.
He cautioned: “Coronavirus has taken a terrible toll on this community, just as it has on countries around the world. We must never forget about that destructive power. As we move gradually out of lockdown, we must keep our defences up. Social distancing and hand washing are still the central message for me. That’s how we keep COVID-19 on the downward trajectory. If we relax our guard now, the consequences will be extremely serious.”
Economy Minister Diane Dodds called on students impacted financially by COVID-19 or suffering other economic hardship today to explore whether they could avail of funds to help get them out of difficulty.
An additional £1.4million is being made available to the higher education institutions’ annual support funds for alleviating student hardship through the June monitoring round.
Minister Dodds explained: “In May of this year, the Executive approved my bid for an additional £1.4million to support students who have been suffering financially due to the impacts of the virus. I am now pleased to be able to announce a further £1.4million to address financial hardship from my Department and as a result of this we are now able to increase the total of the student hardship fund to £5.6million. I would encourage any students who may be experiencing financial hardship as a result of COVID-19, or for any other reason, to contact their Higher Education Institution to determine if they are eligible to receive support.”
Finance Minister Conor Murphy announced the extension of measures to ensure Government departments continue paying suppliers impacted by the COVID-19 health emergency.
Relief measures announced in March for suppliers who provide goods and services and construction contractors, whose work has been reduced or paused temporarily will continue during the lockdown recovery.
Minister Murphy explained: "Nearly 100 suppliers to Government departments across a wide range of sectors including construction, catering, facilities management and maintenance have availed of the relief I announced in March. These support measures have provided a vital lifeline to these businesses, enabling cash to continue flowing through the supply chain and helping to pay salaries and protect jobs. Importantly it also means suppliers unable to meet their contractual obligations will be able to resume service delivery as we begin to emerge from lockdown. "It is vital that we continue to protect suppliers during these challenging times, which is why the Executive has agreed to extend these measures until October."
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: www.publichealth.hscni.net/news/covid-19-coronavirus.
- The latest update on Covid-19 is also available at: www.health-ni.gov.uk/sites/default/files/publications/health/COVID%20update%20for%20Executive%2008%20June.pdf
- 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: 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: 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: 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.
- Information on the full range of Covid-19 related support for businesses is available at: www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk/campaign/coronavirus-updates-support-your-business.
- 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: DfE.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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