Covid-19

Part of Ministerial Statements – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 11:15 am on 5th May 2020.

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Photo of Nichola Mallon Nichola Mallon Social Democratic and Labour Party 11:15 am, 5th May 2020

I will take Translink first. I have been very clear that, right across the Department, the safety of the public and staff is paramount. Translink has brought forward a number of initiatives. There are cough screens on every single bus. Bus and train drivers have been provided with gloves and hand sanitiser. A no-cash-back policy has been introduced in order to avoid transmission. There is increased cleaning of all vehicles. I want to put on record my appreciation to all Translink staff because they go to work to ensure that the rest of those who are engaged in essential work can get to and from work.

I have stressed the importance of ensuring that Northern Ireland Water workers are safe. I actually have regular conference calls with the chief executive to get assurances on that. In Roads Service, I have been very clear that, where people can work from home, they should, and, where work is essential and they cannot work from home — for example, to keep roads safe or prevent flooding — they can go to work, and we absolutely must ensure that they are kept safe through social distancing and the use of PPE.

As a Department, we engage regularly with trade unions and workers. I request very regular updates on any concerns that trade unions or workers have. I have also told Members that if they are aware of individual cases where someone feels that, as an employee, they are not being kept safe, I absolutely want to know about it.