Executive Daily Update: Initiatives to deal with Coronavirus (29 June 2020)

Date published: 29 June 2020

Northern Ireland Executive ministers and their officials have over the past 72 hours been involved in a number of initiatives and critical decisions relating to the Coronavirus emergency.

Outdoor gatherings of up to 30 people are to be allowed while the spread of Covid-19 continues to be contained, Executive ministers signalled today.

First Minister Arlene Foster and deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill confirmed the move after today’s meeting of the Executive but stressed the number of people who can meet indoors in domestic settings remains up to six.

Executive Coronavirus relaxations graphic
Executive Coronavirus relaxations graphic

Urging members of the public not to relax their guard, First Minister Foster said: “As sections of society start opening up, the ability to meet people outdoors has undoubtedly brought benefits for social interaction, support networks, family ties and informal childcare arrangements. In line with our indicative timeline, the Executive discussed, as planned, the next step increasing the number of people who can meet outdoors from 10 to 30. We agreed to ratify that increase up to 30 in line with our plan and the Health Minister Robin Swann will lay regulations on this issue tonight.”  

With the Executive’s updated physical distancing guidelines coming into operation from today, deputy First Minister O’Neill reminded the public: “The social distancing guidance has not been reduced to one metre. Two metres is still the optimum distance that everyone should try to adhere to in terms of social distancing. There is less risk of virus transmission at this distance and that guidance remains in place. It’s only when two metres is not possible that people should go below that but always to an absolute minimum of one metre. This should only happen when mitigating measures are put in place.”

Communities Minister Carál Ní Chuilín today published guidance for operators of urban centres and green spaces on how they could achieve social distancing and protect those using their venues.

The guidance provides the owners and operators of public spaces with information and examples of measures that may be undertaken to adapt and manage their venue.

Minister Ní Chuilín explained: “It is important that we use our public spaces constructively as we progress our Covid-19 Recovery Plan. These places can be utilised positively in supporting local businesses and in providing areas for exercise and relaxation. Their role will be even more important in the weeks and months ahead. Whilst this guidance is mainly intended for owners and operators of public places, it remains the responsibility of the individual user of such places to act on all guidance.”

The Minister said the guidance would be of use to the owners of hotels, bars, restaurants and cafes proposing to use outdoor spaces close to their buildings to maximise their trade while ensuring the safety of their staff and customers.

She said: “This guidance will help identify the interventions required to tailor these spaces to social distancing requirements.”

Prisoners at Hydebank Wood College have been making gifts for frontline workers during the pandemic, the Department of Justice revealed.

Young male and female inmates have made tea and coffee mugs and baked buns for hospital nurses, shop and charity workers and firefighters as a token of their gratitude for their heroic service during the Covid-19 emergency.

Hydebank Wood Governor Gary Milling said: “Like many in our community over the past weeks and months, the young men and women in our care at Hydebank have been reflecting on the ‘hidden heroes’ who have been working tirelessly during the Covid pandemic. The gift of mugs and tray bakes was simply their way of saying thank you to those people.”

Notes to editors: 

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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
  4. 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.
  5. The latest update on Covid-19 is also available at: https://www.health-ni.gov.uk/sites/default/files/publications/health/COVID%20update%20for%20Executive%2008%20June.pdf
  6. 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.
  7. 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
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. Psychological Support Help Lines will be staffed by psychologists and psychological therapists who can provide appropriate support throughout the surge phase of the crisis.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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
  16. Anyone wishing to volunteer for health and social care support roles can do so via: www.hscworkforceappeal.co.uk/.
  17. The Freephone Covid-19 Community Helpline can be accessed by telephone on 0808 802 0020; email covid1@adviceni.net or text ACTION to 81025. It is available 7 days a week, 9am to 5pm.
  18. Statistics on weekly deaths registered in Northern Ireland can be accessed on NISRA’s website at: https://www.nisra.gov.uk/publications/weekly-deaths.
  19. 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.
  20. A link to the guidance on schools clustering is available here: https://www.education-ni.gov.uk/guidance-schools-cluster-arrangements.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. The ‘Charting a course for the economy: our first steps’ paper can be accessed at: www.economy-ni.gov.uk/publications/charting-course-economy
  24. Workplace safety guidance for Northern Ireland businesses is available at https://www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk/content/coronavirus-workplace-safety-guidance-and-priority-sector-list
  25. Guidance from the Department for Communities on the safe use of urban and green spaces during the Covid-19 pandemic can be accessed at https://www.communities-ni.gov.uk/publications/guidance-urban-centres-and-green-spaces-covid-19
  26. 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: dof.pressoffice@finance-ni.gov.uk
    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
     
  27. 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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