Public and businesses must work in partnership with Stormont, say ministers

Credit: UTV

A clear path out of the pandemic may be on the wish list for Stormont, but during a visit to a supermarket on Wednesday politicians only had one thing on their shopping list.

And it wasn’t toilet roll. 

The ministers want people and businesses to buy into public health advice and play their part in the fight against the virus, arguing that the Executive cannot legislate its way out of the pandemic.

Junior ministers Declan Kearney and Gordon Lyons went to the store in Belfast to sell the idea that retailers and customers must work in partnership to keep one another safe.

The Executive meets on Thursday to discuss its exit strategy from the current restrictions. Credit: UTV

Minister Kearney said: “We are now through the mid-point of the emergency intervention the Executive introduced to halt the spread of Coronavirus across the community.

Minister Lyons said: “We cannot legislate our way through Covid and we need everyone in society to play their small part in following the public health advice, and in doing so making a massive difference to how we can all live with the virus."

Schools returned after a two week break on Monday and the current restrictions, effectively closing hospitality and close-contact services for a month, are due to end at midnight next Thursday.

As strict new lockdown rules, including the closure of non-essential retail, come into effect in England, the public are being urged to support the efforts of retailers here.

Northern Ireland Retail Consortium Director Aodhan Connolly said: “We take our responsibilities to our staff, customers and wider society incredibly seriously and that commitment to do the right thing has resulted in significant investment in stores to keep everyone safe.

“That investment is right across the sector, from the large multi-national retailer to the small independent trader.

“We have created Covid compliant stores and while the shopping experience is different at the minute, it is still enjoyable. As retailers we would ask everyone to continue to do the right thing – to wash your hands, wear your face covering, keep your distance from others and follow the signs in our stores."

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