Northern Ireland lockdown extended to April

School pupils to return in March in two separate groups

Jane Dalton
Thursday 18 February 2021 17:38

Northern Ireland’s lockdown has been extended to April, but some primary school pupils will return to class on 8 March, assembly members have decided.

The Stormont executive has agreed to keep the current restrictions in place until 1 April. They had been due to lapse on 5 March.

But primary-school pupils in year groups P1 to P3, those aged 4-7, will return to face-to-face learning on 8 March, the PA news agency reports.

Only vulnerable children and those of key workers have been in classrooms since January.

Secondary-school pupils in key exam years - year groups 12 to 14 - will return to face-to-face learning on 22 March.

However, it is understood that P1-P3 pupils will return to remote learning for a week on that date, the week before the Easter holidays, to minimise the impact on infection rates of years 12-14 returning to classes.

No decisions have been taken on whether other year groups will return to class after the Easter holidays.

At an executive meeting, ministers also agreed to make relaxations to allow “click and collect” shopping from some outlets previously categorised as non-essential retailers.

From 8 March, click-and-collect will be permitted for shops selling baby equipment, clothing and footwear, and electrical goods.

The decision to extend the main lockdown restrictions to 1 April will be reviewed on 18 March.

Ministers are expected to formally confirm the decisions later.

Since Christmas, people in Northern Ireland have been able to leave home only for essential purposes such as work or exercise.

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