Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon is urging the public to stay at home, stay safe and protect the health service ahead of the bank holiday weekend.
Speaking today as she published average weekly traffic flow figures, Minister Mallon said: “Lockdown isn’t easy – especially as the good weather continues and the bank holiday weekend approaches. Over the past seven weeks, it is clear that people in Northern Ireland are helping to protect the health service, family and friends by following health advice and staying at home unless making an essential journey and traffic flows are backing that up. Working week figures show an overall reduction of up to 65%.
“Last week, while there was still a 58% reduction in normal overall weekly traffic flows, we are seeing an increase in those travelling on our roads. For many the reasons will be legitimate, but the need to continue to restrict our travel remains. We must restrict the spread of the virus by only making essential journeys. Work is under way in my Department and with colleagues in the Departments of Justice and Health to understand why a greater number of people are making journeys and what can be done to help keep more drivers at home.
“I know for many of us staying apart from the people we love and care about goes against everything we know and who we are, but we all need to work together in the fightback against Covid-19. Your actions this weekend won’t just affect you but all of us who share this place. Please listen to Public Health Advice and stay home to save lives this bank holiday weekend.”
Justice Minister Naomi Long also urged the public to do the right thing, saying: “The ‘stay at home’ message is just as crucial now as it was on day one of this crisis if we are to prevent the spread of Covid-19 from person to person, from household to household and from place to place. While formal enforcement powers of the health protection measures have been made available to policing, the vast majority of people are doing the right thing and I urge everyone to do likewise. If you are getting into your car, ask yourself if your reason for doing so is both essential and reasonable. None of this is easy but it is so important if we are to continue to flatten the curve and save lives.”
Health Minister Robin Swann said: “It is reassuring to see that the ‘stay home’ message has got through to so many, but lives still depend on us continuing to do the right thing. This weekend, like all the others, it is still essential that we stick to the social distancing measures that have proved to be successful in flattening the curve. Please stick with it no matter how good the weather is, how strong the temptation might be. Don’t give in or give up.”