All shops in NI able to open their doors

All shops in Northern Ireland will be able to open later today.

They were given the all-clear by Stormont ministers on Thursday following reduced numbers of coronavirus infections and deaths.

Scientific experts estimated the level of transmission of the virus was manageable.

Coronavirus
Scientific experts estimated the level of transmission of the virus was manageable (Jacob King/PA)

Outlets like independently-run book shops have spent days getting ready and installing protective screens.

Those based in shopping centres also received the green light as ministers accelerated the pace at which society emerges from lockdown.

From Monday, a much broader range of retailers in England will also open their doors.

They are adapting their stores to abide by social distancing restrictions.

Larger firms like home furniture giant Ikea and DIY store B&Q were already accepting customers, with social-distancing measures in place.

Fast food chains like McDonald’s have reopened.

Retail NI chief executive Glyn Roberts represents small and medium-sized businesses.

He said: “This is a very welcome decision which now allows our local retail sector as a whole to reopen and play its role in the economic recovery of Northern Ireland.

“With many retailers reopening tomorrow and over the next few days, I would make an appeal to shoppers to be patient and respectful with shop staff.

“Substantial operational changes have had to be made for shops to comply with social distancing so it is likely that shoppers will experience increased queuing outside some stores.”

Economy Minister Diane Dodds said it was great news but urged people to be considerate when shopping.

She added: “This is a further step in getting the economy moving again.”

President of Newry Chamber of Commerce in Co Down, Emma Marmion-Mullen, said it was an important first step.

She said: “The road to recovery will be challenging.

“The financial support measures from the UK Government and the Executive have helped businesses to survive and keep people in employment.”

People living alone will be reunited with their families after three months of coronavirus lockdown in a major step towards normality in Northern Ireland.

From June 13, people living on their own will be able to meet with one other household to combat loneliness caused by the restrictions, First Minister Arlene Foster said.

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