'Further relaxations' will be made on a rolling basis

Graphic explaining how recent changes will impact members of the public has been released by the Executive

'Further relaxations' will be made on a rolling basis

Abbey Street car park in Coleraine, about three-quarters full as life slowly returns to Coleraine town centre. WK24KC13

By Damian Mullan


By Damian Mullan



NORTHERN Ireland Executive ministers and their officials have over the past 24 hours been involved in a number of initiatives and critical decisions relating to the Coronavirus emergency.

A graphic explaining how recent changes to the Coronavirus Regulations will impact members of the public was released by the Executive today.

The graphic has been published on www.nidirect.gov.uk/coronavirus and outlines what people can now do in a number of areas, including family and community life, work, retail and sport, cultural and leisure activities.

An Executive Office spokesperson said: “As the Executive moves through its five-step recovery plan, further relaxations will be made to the restrictions on a rolling basis. The information provided for the public gives a clear indication of the changes still to come in each of the key sectors set out in the Executive’s recovery document.”

A virtual wellbeing hub to promote positive mental health during the Covid-19 pandemic was launched today by the Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey and Health Minister Robin Swann.

The CovidWellbeingNI hub is hosted on the MindingYourHead website at www.mindingyourhead.info and draws together information, self-help guides and ways people can find support on a range of mental health and wellbeing issues.

Minister Hargey commented: “The CovidWellbeingNI partnership draws together an unprecedented wealth of expertise and support with one clear aim – to promote the positive mental health of people including those vulnerable people and communities who are struggling at this time. Existing inequalities have been amplified by the Covid-19 pandemic and it is important that information and support reach as many people as possible.”

The CovidWellbeingNI partnership, involving the Department for Communities, the Department of Health, five leading mental and wellbeing health charities and the Healthy Living Centre Alliance representing 28 local Healthy Living Centres, is also calling on people to:

* Acknowledge how they are feeling and coping at this time;

* Take  positive action to look after their mental health;

* Reach out for help and support.

Minister Swann explained: “This is a key part of the Covid Mental Health Response Plan I announced two weeks ago. I would encourage people to use this unique and impressive resource created as a direct response to the emotional impact Covid-19 is having on our society.”

Economy Minister Diane Dodds announced a £1.7 million investment in a range of free online courses designed to upskill and retrain people whose jobs have been impacted by Covid-19. 

The funding will be used to deliver a range of short courses delivered by local further education colleges and universities, with almost 2,000 free places created.

The courses are fully accredited and include opportunities from entry to postgraduate levels, focussing on skills identified by industry including digital skills, essential skills, employability skills and leadership and management.

Minister Dodds observed: “Many people and businesses have been deeply affected by the economic impact of Covid-19. It is vital, in the short term, that we provide opportunities for individuals which will support them in finding new employment, or boost the potential of their businesses when they return to work. With these reskilling opportunities available through these short term courses, there is the potential for workers directly affected by the economic impact of Covid-19 to embark on a new career in this essential and rewarding service.”

All courses will be delivered online and participation will be flexible to fit around the lives of individuals, many of whom may be working from home or providing support to children or vulnerable relatives. All courses include an accredited qualification and will be complete by the 30 November 2020.

With just two weeks remaining until the 30 June deadline for this year's Agricultural and Horticultural Census expires, Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Minister Edwin Poots today reminded farm businesses to fill the form in online as soon as possible.

With the census being filled in completely online due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Minister Poots said it was vital for gauging patterns within the sectors and was used to inform the Departmental policy.

The Minister noted: “Last year, only 18% of forms were filled in online. Obviously with the survey going completely online this year, I am encouraging everyone to take the 15 minute survey before the 30 June deadline, and ensure we can capture what’s happening across Northern Ireland.”

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