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Needs of families should be at forefront of any Executive decisions around Omicron, says Hackett

The needs of families should be at the forefront of decisions from the Executive when it meets next week to discuss the potential for any further action in light of the Omicron variant, Alliance’s Claire Hackett has said.

The Mid-Ulster representative, recently appointed as Alliance’s Families spokesperson, was speaking ahead of the next Executive meeting, at which Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said there could be a ‘clearer picture’ about the variant.

Claire said the past two years had been particularly hard for families due to a combination of factors.

“The previous lockdowns were difficult on all of us across the community but families in particular were badly affected,” she said.

“During the periods of working from home, coupled with home learning for children, utility costs were often through the roof. Now we have seen energy costs rise across the board and low income households are already struggling. That is in addition to other problems such as lack of access to technology and poor digital accessibility for rural areas.

“If the Omicron variant means future lockdowns may be necessary, the Executive must give thought as to how to minimise the impact on family life, as well as the mental and physical health of those working or learning from home.

“I understand this is a rapidly evolving situation and instructions cannot be given to families and others by the Executive now. However, I encourage them to put families at the forefront of their decision-making and work to mitigate the impact on them their future actions may have.”