Executive Daily Update: Initiatives to deal with Coronavirus (3 July 2020)

Date published: 03 July 2020

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.

Northern Ireland’s tourism and hospitality sector will prove in the coming weeks why the region is renowned as a quality destination, Economy Minister Diane Dodds insisted today.

As hotels, pubs, cafes and restaurants opened their doors for the first time since lockdown, the Minister stated her belief that the sector would generate a lot of local trade in the absence of tourist numbers.

During a whistlestop tour of tourism and hospitality businesses that saw her visit the Seagoe Hotel and Head O the Road pub in Portadown, the Boathouse Restaurant and Gateway Visitor Centre in Antrim and also Hillsborough Castle, Minister Dodds declared: “Businesses in this sector are a cornerstone of the Northern Ireland economy, employing around 65,000 people and generating in the region of £1billion in revenue each year. But these businesses also represent something more. They are the places people go to socialise, relax and enjoy themselves. We can so easily take this for granted but after it has not been available for three months, I believe people will be very pleased to once again have the opportunity to visit cafés, hotels, pubs, restaurants and visitor attractions.”

The Minister stressed the need for tourism and hospitality business owners and their customers to ensure they take the necessary precautions to protect themselves and others from the risk of spreading Covid-19. 

Mrs Dodds insisted: “The recent relaxation of social distancing rules by the Executive will have a direct positive impact on tourism and hospitality businesses and also on the people using them, but we must not be complacent. So, alongside social distancing, please remember to continue practising good hand and respiratory hygiene while using our hotels, cafés, pubs, restaurants and tourist attractions so that everyone can enjoy them safely.”

Health Minister Robin Swann reiterated the need for members of the public to remain cautious about the lingering threat from Covid-19 and to follow the current health advice on how to prevent its spread.

As he urged everyone in Northern Ireland to take part in a nationwide applause for the NHS on its 72nd birthday at 5pm this Sunday, the Minister said: “Supporting the health service is about much more than applause. We have to keep doing everything we can to stop the spread of the virus. It is essential that the health service is protected from a second wave of infections. Please keep washing your hands and practising social distancing. Please keep doing the right thing.”

Minister Swann and Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael McBride also paid tribute to the Irish Republic’s Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan after he announced he was stepping back from his role to spend time with his wife who is in a palliative care and his children.

In a joint statement, they said: “Our thoughts are very much with Dr Tony Holohan, his wife Emer, their children and family circle at this time. We have worked very closely with Tony and his colleagues in the Republic of Ireland from the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic. We very much appreciate all their support, co-operation and friendship. This is devastating news. The family can be assured of the support and compassion of everyone across this island.”

Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Minister Edwin Poots renewed his call for households and businesses to recycle more, while recognising the many challenges the pandemic had presented the waste sector.

During a tour of the family run business Re-Gen Waste Ltd in Newry, Co Down, Minister Poots observed: “The Covid-19 crisis has shown us the essential nature of the waste sector and I commend Re-Gen for keeping our waste moving during the crisis. Without waste businesses like this continuing to function in the face of the challenges Covid created, there would have been a severe detrimental impact on our recycling rates. Continuing to recycle our waste is very important during this pandemic, to make sure that material flows are safeguarded. Safeguarding this flow also helps us to continue to deliver a low carbon, circular economy agenda, despite our current challenges."

The Minister said Northern Ireland was already in a good position in terms of waste and recycling, with the household waste recycling rate for 2018/19 sitting at 50%, meeting the Northern Ireland Waste Management Strategy target nearly two years ahead of schedule.

Stressing it was important to keep making progress, he encouraged businesses that had recently re-opened, including the hospitality sector, to recycle more.

Mr Poots said: “With approximately 56,000 businesses and organisations in Northern Ireland there is the potential to make a significant contribution to the overall municipal recycling rate. It is estimated these businesses and organisations currently generate 773,480 tonnes per annum, with the potential for them to increase recycling to more than 80% by 2035 or 673,015 tonnes per annum. My emphasis for recycling initiatives is to realise the value of recycling to the local economy. Improving the quality of recycling and reducing contamination will deliver both environmental and economic benefits. I will continue to work with all stakeholders to maximise the value of waste for the local economy.”

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. 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

26. 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 out of hours on 028 9037 8110.

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