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Johnson risking ‘confused’ message over virus response, says Stormont minister

A Stormont minister has accused Boris Johnson of risking “confused” messaging as he declared that Northern Ireland would follow its own course.

Declan Kearney said he would be listening to local medical and scientific advice as well as World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines.

On Sunday the Prime Minister said he would allow people in England to spend more time outdoors from Wednesday.

He added that those who could not work from home should return to the workplace but avoid public transport.

Mr Kearney said: “We are in a critical situation, we are not out of the woods yet.

“There is a potential for confused acoustics arising from the message issued by Boris Johnson yesterday evening.”

Mr Kearney, a Sinn Fein junior minister at Stormont’s Executive Office, helped lead the daily news conference in Belfast on Monday.

He added: “That is not the page that we are on, we are still at a point where we are dealing with Covid-19 – we are in the midst of that battle.

“It is essential that no-one gets mesmerised or distracted by what was said last night.”

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

Northern Ireland is sticking to a public health message urging people to “stay home and save lives”.

DUP junior minister Gordon Lyons said it had always been the case that parts of the UK could take diverging approaches to tackling the pandemic.

He told a Stormont press conference there were different local regulations and there would always be nuanced differences between legislatures.

“That is one of the benefits of devolution, that each country can adapt their messaging and approach depending on their circumstances.

“We are committed to the right outcome for Northern Ireland.”

Mr Kearney said any decision to ease restrictions in Northern Ireland would be informed by medical and scientific advice, the ability of the health service to cope and an assessment of the health, societal and economic impact.

Reviews will continue every three weeks, he added.

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