The Northern Ireland Executive has confirmed that it is extending rates relief to all businesses for one more month and to extend relief to businesses in tourism, retail (excluding off-licences and certain food supermarkets), leisure, hospitality and childcare and airports until the end of the financial year.
Northern Ireland's devolved government has published a five-step plan for gradually emerging from the coronavirus lockdown as science permits.
Unlike plans announced by the Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Irish counterpart Leo Varadkar, the Stormont scheme is not time-specific.
While it will be reviewed every three weeks, the power-sharing coalition in Belfast agreed their plan would be led by science, not an "arbitrary timeframe".
Their message remains 'Stay Home, Save Lives'.
Currently, there is no evidence that COVID-19 can be transmitted by food or food packaging.
However, it is always important to follow good hygiene practices when handling or preparing foods. You should always wash your hands and surfaces often, separate raw meat from other foods, cook to the right temperature and put food in the fridge as soon as you can.
Food shopping advice
· Please don’t go shopping if you have COVID-19 symptoms. You can order your groceries online or have some family or friends drop them off instead.
· When you go food shopping, you should wash your hands before you leave the house, avoid touching your face when you’re out and follow social distancing.
· When you come home, you should wash your hands straight away. Wash them again once you have unpacked and put away your shopping.
· It is not necessary to sanitise the outside of food packaging. While there is some evidence that the virus can survive on hard surfaces, the risk from handling food packing is very low and there is no evidence that the illness can be transmitted in this way.
· If you are sanitising surfaces or shopping bags, follow the manufacturer’s instructions about how much time is needed before wiping the sanitiser off.
· Gloves can give a false sense of security. They would need to be changed very frequently to be effective. It’s better to wash your hands often and avoid touching your face.
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A dedicated programme of support has been launched by the Plunkett Foundation to help rural community businesses across the UK as they battle the unprecedented challenge of the coronavirus lockdown.Thanks to funding from the Co-op, Plunkett will offer a dedicated package of free Covid-19 support for open and trading community businesses, as well as those developing groups that have been affected by the pandemic.
The new scheme will focus on getting one-to-one support to groups that need it the most. This will include free practical support from Plunkett’s national network of specialist community businesses advisers. All forms of community business – including woodlands, farms, bakeries, pubs and shops – will be able to get support, advice and guidance on a range of issues such as;
To help families bring some structure, learning and fun into their daily routine during this difficult time, CYPSP have created a resource pack which brings numerous resources and activities together in one place.
All resources are free and are in the public domain.
Download your copy of the CYPSP Resource Pack for Children & Young People
An amendment to Working Time Regulations came into force in Northern Ireland on 24 April 2020 to allow for annual leave (up to 4 weeks) not taken as a result of coronavirus, to be carried over into the next two leave years.
What has changed?
Under the normal Regulations, employers are required to ensure that the minimum leave under the Working Time Directive of four weeks is taken in the leave year it relates to. This is important to ensure workers and employees get enough rest and remain healthy, both physically and mentally.
The amendment known as the Working Time (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020 amends the Working Time Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2016 and allows for annual leave of up to four weeks (pro rata for part time staff) to be carried over into the next two leave years. This legislation reflects changes already in place in Great Britain.
In proposing the change in legislation Minister Diane Dodds noted that the amendment applies only to circumstances where workers are unable to take their leave as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
NI legislation amended allowing carry over of annual leave
Linking Generations NI have come up with some lovely ideas to keep generations connected during this difficult period of social isolation.
These can be downloaded from their website
Some, I'm sure you are already using but there are a couple of very thoughtful ideas as well.
These can be downloaded from their website
Volunteer Now partnered with NICVA to deliver this essential learning on how to put best practice in place for involving volunteers safely in such challenging times.
Covid-19 has highlighted across the world how important volunteering is. Volunteers are brining amazing support to those 'most at risk' in our communities and more and more people are stepping up in terms of getting involved and offering help. However, we need to ensure safe methods and systems to protect everyone.
This webinar is now available to view here. (Recorded on 9 April 2020.)
Volunteer Now have also published some Good Practice Guidance information sheets when involving volunteers and volunteering during the Covid-19 crisis. These include Guidance on Volunteering when on Furlough, Informal Volunteering in Response to Covid-19, Keeping Children and Adults Safe Factsheet and more. To view the information sheets, please click here.
Newry, Mourne and Down District Council COVID-19 Emergency Response Funding Received to Support Community and Voluntary SectorCovid-19 Funding
NMD District Council have received £98,250 from the Department for Communities for a COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund to support the community and voluntary sector.
The key focus of the fund is to support projects which help individuals and families experiencing financial stress, or requiring help with food supplies or connectivity needs, because of the current pandemic. As well as support with essential supplies, it is hoped those feeling isolated can benefit from ongoing contact with someone outside of the home.
For details see: https://tinyurl.com/y8fkbcz9