More retailers to open and small outdoor weddings to resume next month in NI

More retailers can open and small outdoor weddings will receive the go-ahead from June 8 if the coronavirus infection rate remains under control, ministers in Northern Ireland said.

Large stores like car showrooms will be able to open their doors.

Those in retail parks stocking household electrical appliances, computer equipment, mobile phones and furniture are also due to reopen, First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said.

Activities to be permitted include:

– Weddings limited to fewer than ten people.

– Taking pets for treatment or grooming.

– Outdoor sports facilities.

– Hotels will be allowed to take forward bookings at their own risk but no date was set for reopening.

Coronavirus cases in Northern Ireland
(PA Graphics)

Ms O’Neill said: “Today represents forward momentum.”

The ministers defended their decision not to allow indoor gatherings of people yet.

Science suggests the virus spreads more easily indoors than outdoors.

Supermarket sales have set a 26-year record recently, while takeaway business is up 250%, the ministers said.

They also said 99 health and social care workers had been redeployed as contact tracers where coronavirus was detected.

Over the seven days to May 25, 212 cases were followed up, about 30 per day.

UPDATE on coronavirus (#COVID19) in NI.https://t.co/YN16dmGzhvpic.twitter.com/dSGqZrHoD3

— Department of Health (@healthdpt) May 28, 2020

Ms O’Neill said it took two or three weeks to properly monitor how the disease has spread.

It will be June 8 before they know what impact earlier easements like allowing small groups to meet outdoors, solitary prayer at church and reopening of garden centres, has had on the virus’ rate of spread.

The deputy first minister added they needed to be confident the rate of transmission had not risen above one.

The Stormont Executive will meet again on June 4 to make a final decision.

Two more deaths involving Covid-19 were reported by the Department of Health on Thursday, taking the total to 518.

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