The First and Deputy First Ministers have written an open letter to the public to thank them for their sacrifices throughout the health pandemic.

The letter was published in Northern Ireland's daily newspapers on Saturday.

DUP leader Arlene Foster and Sinn Féin's Michelle O'Neill acknowledged that the public's actions has reduced the infection rate in Northern Ireland.

They said: "You have been living with very challenging restrictions on your way of life for many weeks now as we battle against coronavirus.

"By following the measures that are in place your actions have reduced theinfection rate here and countless lives have been saved."

Thank you for the part you have played and the personal circumstances you have made for the good of your family, the health service and our whole community.

First Minister Arlene Foster & Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill
Northern Ireland's leaders have written an open letter thanking the public for their sacrifices. Credit: NI Executive

"We are now in a position where we can begin to slowly and carefully relax some of the restrictions," the letter continued.

"As we keep working together to save lives, our contribution is still critical. We ask you to keep following the rules that are in place at each stage as we move out of lockdown.

"The simple advice on handwashing and social distancing is still vital in our fight against coronavirus.

"The better we all follow public health advice, the sooner we all get through this, together."

The letter listed a range of permitted activities that people living in Northern Ireland can now do.

These include meeting up with groups of up to six people outdoors, taking part in certain outdoor activities including tennis, golf and angling, or visiting a place of worship for individual prayer.

A number of retail shops, including gardening centres, and recycling centres are also open across the province.

Some other activities like drive-in cinemas, church services and live music or theatre performances are also permitted, provided people stay inside their cars with members of their own household.