Health Minister Robin Swann has called for a concerted community-wide effort against COVID-19, as Northern Ireland prepares to gradually ease out of lockdown restrictions.
The Minister said everyone has a key part to play in maintaining the progress achieved over recent months.
“We are all looking forward to restrictions being relaxed – it’s been hard earned. Moving out of restrictions, however, does not mean we can ease up in our attitude towards the virus.
“We must not jeopardise the important progress made to date or do anything that could impede our pathway towards a better summer.
“The achievable goal - and the objective for us all - must be to exit lockdown on a sustainable basis. That will require continued caution and vigilance. Mixing without social distancing and throwing caution to the wind will have consequences.
“I support the Executive’s decisions last week. As Health Minister, I am very conscious of the consequences of prolonged lockdown, not least for mental and physical well-being. I don’t want us ever to have to go back there and working together we can shape the weeks and months ahead.
“However, let no one think that the threat from the virus is going to simply fade away. It is not. The good news is that it is in our hands to keep it in check, to keep it under control.
“We can do this by sticking with the public health advice that keeps us all safe and getting vaccinated once it’s our turn. That means getting our first dose and our second dose, so we have the best protection. We can protect our health and our freedoms by taking up the vaccine, keeping our social interactions outdoors, avoiding crowded settings, letting the fresh air in. Please continue to avoid indoor settings for now and keep close contacts with others to as few as possible.
“There is an inevitable potential for a further spike in COVID-19 cases in coming months, as opportunities for mixing increase. We must be prepared for that.
“Our ability to suppress the virus and withstand any potential surge depends on us adhering to public health guidance and getting the vaccine.”
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