The Stormont Executive have published their plans for society to move out of Covid-19 restrictions.

The lengthy 28 page document is heavily detailed while at the same time heavily lacking in specific detail. ‘Moving Forward: The Executive’s Pathway Out Of Restrictions’ gives details on the proposed staged approach out of our current restrictions but doesn't mention dates for each stage.

Hill Street Newry, like other towns and cities has suffered incredibly during Covid-19. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/
Hill Street Newry, like other towns and cities has suffered incredibly during Covid-19. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/

The approach rather is to have dates when 'Comprehensive Formal Reviews' will be held, although the executive have stated that these should not be viewed as dates on which they will move to lift certain restrictions; rather, they are appropriate dates that have been identified to examine all relevant indicators. The Review dates are 16 March, 15 April, 13 May and 10 June.


The plan centres around nine pathways each of which has five phases so complicated it certainly is. The pathways are:

  • Home and Community
  • Education and Young People
  • Culture, Heritage and Entertainment
  • Sports and Leisure Activities
  • Worship and Ceremonies
  • Travel and Tourism
  • Work
  • Retail and Services
  • Hospitality

From Phase One, where we are now to Phase Five, what they call "Preparing for the future" set out a step-by-step approach to the relaxation of the current regulations.

A statement released today reads :The plan builds on medical and scientific advances over the last year, which together with the collective action of citizens, has resulted in a reduction in levels of infection across our community.

"These advances include the expansion of the test, track and protect systems to target localised outbreaks and identify and respond rapidly to any new variants of concern; and the success of our vaccination programme, which has delivered a vaccine to more than 500,000 people since the beginning of December and is continuing to roll-out at speed across the adult population."

The statement adds although we have made significant progress and there is much to be hopeful for they are mindful that the Covid-19 pandemic can be highly unpredictable and the situation is complicated by the emergence of new variants, which can spread even more easily between people.

Continuing the statement says "The sequencing of progress through the phases will be based on evidence, the prevailing public health situation and an assessment of impacts for people, for society and for the economy.

"This means that we may be in different phases across the nine pathways at any given time.

"We have already begun our journey of gradual easements in some areas. The process of returning our young people to schools will begin with phase 1 on Monday March 8; and phase 2 on March 22. Subject to the levels of community transmission, the return of other pupils to school will begin immediately after the Easter holidays with the aim of all pupils returning to school as soon as possible.

"Each step must be informed by the impact of the last relaxation on community transmission and the R number. That’s why we believe a careful approach, taking one small step at a time and reviewing the impacts, is the best and safest way to move forward. While we understand that people want certainty, we cannot be bound by dates that would only serve to give people false hope.

"A rigorous monitor, review and implementation system has been developed to assess the impact of each phase of the relaxations and identify possible next actions.

"Businesses will rightly want time to prepare for reopening when the time is right to do so. Engagement with relevant sectors will be a core element of our four-weekly reviews, which will help to support preparations for Covid-19 safe environments."

The statements ends "In line with the Executive’s guiding principles on the management of the pandemic all decision-making will be evidenced, proportionate, necessary and sustainable."

You can check out the publication at WWW.EXECUTIVEOFFICE-NI.GOV.UK

Pin It



Please consider supporting


FOLLOW NEWRY.IE require Cookies on some parts of our site to enable full functionality. By using you consent to our use of Cookies. You can use your browser settings to disable cookies on this or any other website.