GROUPS of up to six people from different households will be able to meet outdoors in Northern Ireland from tomorrow.
The new rules come as ministers agree to ease lockdown restrictions – as long as social distancing measures are followed.
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It means families in Northern Ireland will be able to meet up outdoors if they keep their distance – something which is forbidden in the rest of the UK.
CINEMAS, CONCERTS AND CHURCHES
Garden centres and recycling centres have already reopened in Northern Ireland and today, Stormont First Minister Arlene Foster confirmed that places of worship would also reopen for individual prayer.
Drive-in religious services, cinemas, concerts and live theatre would also be permitted allowed, as long as audiences stay in their cars.
We would have liked to unlock the whole of step one but, quite simply, the reason why we haven't been able to move to indoor family gatherings is because of the medical advice.
However, people are still not allowed to visit family members from other households indoors, even though it is included in step one of Northern Ireland's recovery.
First Minister Arlene Foster said she understood that would be disappointing for some people, but gave a "commitment" to constantly review the measures.
She said: "We would have liked to unlock the whole of step one but, quite simply, the reason why we haven't been able to move to indoor family gatherings is because of the medical advice.
"The relaxations we've announced have been made made possible by the vast majority of you following advice.
"They have been hard-won freedoms and it's vital when you exercise them, it doesn't put anyone else's safety at risk."
'BEAR WITH US'
Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill urged people in Northern Ireland to "Bear with us," adding that as soon as the advice changed, the executive would move to lift that restriction.
She said: "We will get there and we'll get there sooner, if we all keep doing what we're doing.
Last week, the executive published its five-phase blueprint for recovery in Northern Ireland, but it does not have a timetable."
Coronavirus lockdown rules differ in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a lifting of some restrictions during a televised address on Sunday, May 10, but these do not apply to the whole of the United Kingdom and British Isles.
The lockdown was extended in Northern Ireland by another three weeks last week.
Ms Foster however said at the time that there would be "nuanced" tweaks to the rules in the days ahead.
She said: "On the whole, the message is to stay at home.
“We will say we are not deviating from the message at this time.
“It is important for people to know we are not doing this in a nanny state way. Once we can move, we will move.”
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