The Northern Ireland Executive has approved the reopening of garden centres and household recycling centres from Monday.

Marriage ceremonies involving someone who has a terminal illness will also be allowed from next week.

The measures have been approved by ministers as part of a phased exit from Covid-19 restrictions.

First Minister Arlene Foster said the announcement represented "very tentative first steps toward recovery".

Northern Ireland's lockdown exit plan sets out a five-step process, but does not assign projected dates for any of the stages.

"We hope to reveal more about the implementation of stage one on Monday," said Mrs Foster.

Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill said the changes had been informed by medical and scientific advice.

"Every decision is carefully judged on an evaluation of risk and potential benefits," she said.

Ms O'Neill said the executive would "move towards step one" of the exit plan on Monday.

There have been a further five Covid-19 related deaths in Northern Ireland, taking the total to 454.

While most of the fatalities occurred in hospitals, the figure also includes deaths in nursing homes and other settings.

The Department of Health said there have been an additional 38 cases of coronavirus, bringing the overall figure to 4,291.

Stormont let health service down over last decade - Swann

Northern Ireland's Health Minister has said Stormont let the health service down over the last decade.

Robin Swann said the system had been run down so far that a scramble was necessary to find capacity to cope when the coronavirus pandemic struck.

The last decade has seen turbulence at Stormont, including a three-year suspension of devolved government following a breakdown in relations, leaving senior civil servants to lead departments with limited powers.

"Vital services have been underfunded, short-term decisions were preferred over long-term planning, difficult choices were ducked, staff were left to feel unappreciated, social care was particularly neglected," Mr Swann said.

Addressing MLAs at Stormont's Ad Hoc committee on the Covid-19 response, the minister urged "humility and reflection" around the chamber.

"Underfunding and short-term planning led to staff levels becoming depleted," he said.

"Persistent single-year budgets have seen healthcare surviving hand to mouth with a limited ability to plan strategically and deliver better services.

"Running health and social care on close to empty for ten years robbed it of capacity, resilience and flexibility.

"It left us with no option but to scramble to free up capacity and procure much-needed equipment at pace."

Earlier this week, Mr Swann announced Northern Ireland's Nightingale facility would be stood down, allowing the reintroduction of urgent surgery and other key services to be delivered from Belfast City Hospital.

But he said the facility would be retained as part of flexible plans for any potential re-escalation of the Covid-19 response.

Additional reporting PA