The Stormont Executive has revealed parts of Northern Ireland’s map out of lockdown which will see non-essential retail click and collect services return in April.
While the majority of the current restrictions will remain in place until after Easter, the Executive agreed to gradual changes which will come into effect before the next formal review date on or before 15 April.
On April 1 garden centres and plant nurseries will be allowed to operate a contactless click and collect service. This will then be expanded on the 12 April to allow all non-essential retailers to operate a click and collect service – the same date that non-essential retail will be allowed to open in England.
The news comes two weeks since the executive published its Pathway Out Of Restrictions blueprint which focuses on reopening key areas of the economy, such as retail and hospitality businesses, in a phased capacity.
The plan did not initially include any dates, with Stormont making it clear it would make decisions based on data instead.
The pathway will follow the five stages of restriction from lockdown to the first steps of easing, gradual easing, further easing, and preparing for the future.
At the time Michelle O’Neill, deputy first minister, said: “We must do everything we can to try to make this one the last lockdown, with the underpinning insurance policy that this Executive will take the steps needed to protect the health service.
“Taking all these factors together, we can take some tentative preparatory steps towards the lifting of restrictions. But great care is still needed.”
She added: “That is why the Executive has agreed today a careful, cautious and hopeful approach to existing restrictions.”