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Further changes to the Coronavirus Regulations have been approved today by the Executive.

At their meeting this morning, ministers were briefed by medical and scientific experts on the current transmission rate of the virus and agreed to move forward on a number of social and economic relaxations.

These include:

  • permitting indoor visits with one other household for those who live alone;
  • outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people;
  • opening up of the housing market;
  • opening up the remainder of the retail market;
  • allowing outdoor training for elite athletes; and
  • allowing places of worship and community centres to open to provide day-care.

In taking these decisions, the Executive has reminded the public to continue to follow the public health advice – adhering to social distancing rules and practice good hand and respiratory hygiene to stay safe and save lives.

Where changes require amendments to the legislation, these will commence on dates between June 11 and 15. Some changes do not require amendments to the regulations, but guidance has been developed and will be published.

First Minister Arlene Foster said: “This is an important milestone as we are now in the process of closing step one in our five step recovery plan.

“The changes allow – for the first time since the end of March – those who live alone to form a small support unit with one other household, allowing the person to visit and stay over. We know that this will bring comfort to many across Northern Ireland who have been on their own for more than 10 weeks.

“The Executive will review this situation again next week and consider indoor visits from one household to another household in more limited circumstances.

“We have also been able to move forward on the opening of both the housing and retail sectors which will help our hard pressed local business community.

“The Executive is committed to move forward on other relaxations as soon as it is right to do so. We have consistently said that the regulations will only remain in place as long as they are needed and our decisions will continue to be based on our expert scientific and medical advice.

“But we must be guard against complacency. Coronavirus is still circulating in the community and we must continue to follow the public health advice, to adhere to social distancing and good hand hygiene.”