All non-essential retailers in Northern Ireland can reopen from Friday.
Pressure had been building for a date to be named with large retailers and shops in retail parks being allowed to open from Monday.
Also in the Republic of Ireland, all high street shops had resumed business on today.
Economy Minister Diane Dodds confirmed the major step forward during a visit to Debenhams in Belfast city centre this afternoon.
Mrs Dodds said: “I am very pleased to be able to confirm that all non-essential goods retailers in Northern Ireland can re-open from Friday 12 June, subject to them adhering to the necessary safety measures and no increase in the spread of the virus. This was considered at this morning’s Executive meeting and it was agreed that as long as retailers can adhere to the necessary safety measures, and there is no increase in the spread of the virus by Thursday, then these shops can re-open.
“The pandemic has had a devastating impact on the local economy. The recovery has already begun and it is time now for the pace to accelerate. The re-opening of all goods retail outlets will be a huge part of this.
“The safety of staff and customers is of course paramount. All retailers must be able to implement measures that minimise the risk to their staff and to the people who visit their stores. We will be co-existing with this virus for some time to come so it is vital that we continue to adhere to guidance to work and live safely. Debenhams is an excellent example of how retailers can make this work and adapt to this new normal.”
The Minister added: “The re-opening of our local shopping sector is a significant step forward in the Executive’s pathway to recovery. I and my Executive colleagues remain committed to moving forward in the recovery while at all times keeping the health, wellbeing and safety of people at the centre and being transparent in our approach.
“This is a major step forward today but there is more work to do and I will continue to work to progress the recovery.”