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Addressing the NI Executive media briefing, First Minister Arlene Foster said.

"Over the last nine weeks, you have made big sacrifices to the way you live your lives.

We recognise people have had to change.

YouGov has found that prior to Covid only 7% of workers UK-wide say they worked from home the whole time, with an additional 20% saying they did occasionally.

However 38% of the pre-crisis workforce were working exclusively from home last week with another 8% doing so some of the time.

The Executive recognises the necessity of getting people back into the workplace, and having business functioning again, safely, and a substantial amount of work is continuing on that front.

The majority of you have heeded the advice in the last couple of months- our appeals to stay at home as much as possible.

You have significantly limited your activities in public. You have kept two metres apart from each other and have followed the public advice on cleaning hard surfaces and washing your hands when you've been in contact with others.

Those of you who have exhibited Covid-19 symptoms have self-isolated with your family or housemates.

Your selflessness has enabled us to suppress the Coronavirus at a time when it threatened to engulf our health services.

While we recognise figures will fluctuate over time, and as the virus spreads its way across different regions, NISRA information last week indicated the Northern Ireland death rate stood at approximately 26 per 100,000 with the figure in England and Wales 46, and in Scotland 51 deaths per 100,000.

By flattening the rate of infection, doctors and nurses have been able to devote time and resources to treating those whose lives have been hanging in the balance.

We saw how in parts of Europe in the early days health services were not able to cope with the excessive demand being placed on them.

But such is the severity of Covid-19 for some people that even with that time and those resources, a lot of people have tragically lost their lives despite the valiant efforts of health and care staff.

Families and friends have had to grieve not as they should because of the lockdown and as they come to terms with their loss, they remain very much in our thoughts.

In recent days, the Executive, guided by the scientific and medical advice, has begun to relax some of the restrictions we had no choice to impose.

Restoring these liberties in the face of a deadly virus has been hard-won.

But we can win back more freedoms if everyone remains patient, remains disciplined and remains focused on controlling the rate of infection.

In the absence of a vaccine, the threat from Coronavirus is no less than it was when we had to implement lockdown.

Covid-19 is still lurking. It thrives when people become complacent. It spreads when people become blasé about public health advice and it kills when people start acting as if the threat is no longer with us.

As we head into another Bank Holiday weekend, those of us in the Executive, in the PSNI and other agencies working hard to limit the spread are keen to reinforce the message that no-one in Northern Ireland can afford to be complacent.

The majority of us have been fortunate to resist the first wave of Covid-19. Another wave is expected but we will also need you to be on your guard against inadvertently triggering other spikes.


None of us can afford to take any chances like those who selfishly and recklessly partied in the Obel Apartments in Belfast did last weekend.

The collective spirit all in Northern Ireland have shown in holding off the worst ravages of Covid-19 is as vital now as it was nine weeks ago.

The more disciplined we are in following the public health advice this weekend and the coming weeks, the more it will drive down the R rate.

The more we control the R rate, the quicker we can move through the Roadmap to Recovery and lift more restrictions.

It is as simple as that.

Let’s work together to see further relaxations as early as we possibly can.

Stay safe. Stay disciplined. Stay at home as much as possible. Follow the 2m social distancing rule and handwashing advice.


If you are taking the opportunity to see up to six people from outside your home or are shopping, exercising, fishing or playing tennis or golf, then do so sparingly and do so sensibly.

Do not try to pre-empt the lifting of any other restrictions.


Your patience and behaviour have driven down the R rate so far and that is the key to the lifting of more restrictions.

By being sensible, let us continue to make more progress towards the normality we all want to see return."