Garden centres and recycling centres in Northern Ireland can reopen from Monday as part of the first measures to ease lockdown, Arlene Foster has said.
The move comes after a meeting of the power-sharing executive on Thursday. First Minister, Arlene Foster, said they were “very tentative first steps toward recovery”.
“It is important that everyone understands that the process of relaxing restrictions will be incremental, and there will not be a dramatic shift,” she added.
Northern Ireland’s “R rate” – the average number of people that a person carrying Covid-19 infects – has fallen to below 0.7. The number of virus deaths in the region rose by five to 454 on Thursday.
The region’s lockdown exit plan sets out a five-step process, but does not assign projected dates for any of the stages.
Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said the executive would “move towards step one” of the exit plan on Monday when further relaxations would be revealed. She described Northern Ireland’s exit out of lockdown as happening in “baby steps”.
The decision in Northern Ireland follows an announcement by Wales’s First Minister, Mark Drakeford, that the region’s road map for easing lockdown restrictions would be published by the end of the week.
Mark Drakeford told Members of the Senedd on Wednesday that the plan was “still being worked on” and needed to be “readily understood by the readership of the Welsh public”.
However he emphasised that in Wales people would be encouraged to stay home.
“That is the best way in which we can help one another to overcome this crisis,” Mr Drakeford said.
“People are allowed now to leave their homes more than once a day for exercise, and if your way of taking exercise is to walk from your home to a river and to sit there, not near other people, and to go fishing then that is allowed within the rules in Wales.
“But it must be local and it must be done in a way that observes social distancing.”