Executive Daily Update: Initiatives to deal with Coronavirus (9 July 2020)

Date published: 09 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.

Gyms, cinemas, bingo halls and outdoor playgrounds are to reopen and competitive sport will resume under lockdown easements approved by Executive ministers today.

Ministers approved at today’s meeting:

  • The reopening of indoor fitness studios and gyms; bingo halls and amusement arcades; outdoor leisure playgrounds, courts and gyms; and cinemas from tomorrow (July 10).
  • The resumption of horse racing and outdoor equestrian competitions and outdoor competitive games and sporting events from July 11 for grassroots and professional sport but with no spectators allowed.
  • Amendments to the International Travel Regulations, removing the need for self-isolation for those travelling to Northern Ireland from low to medium risk countries.

Ministers also ratified earlier commitments relating to:

  • The resumption of indoor weddings and baptisms in places of worship from tomorrow (July 10).
  • The resumption from tomorrow of marriage and civil partnership services in local government offices and other venues.
  • The mandatory use of face coverings on public transport from tomorrow unless someone is in an exempt group.
  • The reopening of libraries from July 16, with protocols enacted to ensure social distancing.
  • The reopening of indoor sport and leisure facilities, including skating rinks and leisure centres on July 17, but excluding swimming pools.

The decision to resume competitive sport from this weekend and reopen indoor sports facilities next week was welcomed by the Communities Minister, Carál Ní Chuilín.

However the Minister stressed the resumption of sporting activities was on the basis that governing body protocols are in place and are adhered to and that everyone takes responsibility for and complies with the hygiene and social distancing directives. 

Minister Ní Chuilín said: “These decisions are based on the latest scientific and health advice and it is more important than ever to emphasise that everyone has a personal responsibility to follow the guidance and to protect those around them. I trust that sports people, clubs and Governing Bodies are compliant with the guidance that is out there.  We all want to enjoy taking part in sport once again and look forward to attending sporting events when it is safe to do so.”

The Minister noted the announcement followed the injection of an additional £2million in funding last week to enable people and communities to get back to enjoying their sport safely. 

She added: “I would hope that further relaxations and news on return for spectators to sporting events will be announced in due course.”

Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Minister Edwin Poots paid tribute today to the work of Rural Support during the Covid-19 pandemic with farm businesses and families.

The Minister, who recently met the new CEO of Rural Support, Veronica Morris and its chair, John Thompson, revealed he had been presented with the findings of a recent survey undertaken by the organisation which highlighted concerns from financial pressures, isolation, loneliness to mental and physical health.

Arguing the survey would inform new initiatives to directly address those issues, Minister Poots said: “Rural Support bring a wide range of skills to support people in rural areas from providing business advice, mentoring, mental health support, and help with general farming issues, and have worked tirelessly to help those in need during the Covid-19 pandemic. I am also very pleased that Rural Support will be taking forward a number of new initiatives to help with the Covid recovery including the ‘The Business of Farming’ project – a programme of meetings, workshops and one to one support that will be launched in October across Northern Ireland, helping farmers and their families post Covid-19 and looking beyond that to Brexit in terms of challenges and opportunities. I wish to take this opportunity to give my sincerest thanks to everyone at Rural Support for their hours of dedication during the pandemic to help our rural communities to get through it.”

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 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 dashboard 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 link to the guidance on schools clustering is available here: https://www.education-ni.gov.uk/guidance-schools-cluster-arrangements.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. The ‘Charting a course for the economy: our first steps’ paper can be accessed at: www.economy-ni.gov.uk/publications/charting-course-economy
  23. Workplace safety guidance for Northern Ireland businesses is available at https://www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk/content/coronavirus-workplace-safety-guidance-and-priority-sector-list
  24. Under the Department of Education’s wifi and digital technology programme for disadvantaged pupils, schools using the agreed criteria can identify pupils who do not have access to wi-fi and can make a request through the C2K Exchange. The Education Authority will verify the data submitted and work with schools to determine allocation.
  25. For more information on the postgraduate certificate in supply chain and operations management, and to apply, visit: www.qub.ac.uk/Study/operations-supply-chain-management
  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: 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 out of hours on 028 9037 8110.

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