COVID-19 restrictions have lifted across Northern Ireland
The two-week limited lockdown that went into effect on the 17th November across Northern Ireland has today been lifted.
Non-essential retail and certain portions of the hospitality sector can now open. Restaurants, cafes and other food serving venues can re-open for indoor dining but pubs that do not offer any food must remain closed.
Alongside the lifting of the lockdown at midnight, the government also published their new COVID-19 regulations. For a hospitality venue to reopen any food being served to customers must have been prepared “in a static and permanent kitchen on the premises of the bar, hotel, pub or club and which is eaten by a person seated at a table”. Everyone who visits a hospitality venue must also provide their name and telephone number.
Other restrictions have also been lifted:
- Hairdressers, barbers, and beauty salons can reopen. To visit one of these businesses you must make an appointment
- Churches can resume services
- Weddings and funerals can have more than 25 attendees, but a risk assessment must be carried out to confirm how many people a venue can safely hold
- Gyms can reopen for individual training, but group classes cannot go ahead
- Outdoor sporting events can have up to 500 spectators
These restrictions will all be relaxed further for the five-day grace period around Christmas.
Speaking on Thursday about the new regulations, First Minister Arlene Foster said, “People have to realise that personal responsibility is the key issue here. We have made provision that people can get together over Christmas, but they should do so in a safe way. We are keeping a very close eye on where the R number is at. We’ll be looking at it again next week, and the week after to see where we’re going with restrictions.”
Echoing the sentiment of personal responsibility and safety, Health Minister Robin Swann commented, “We have to keep doing the basics – reducing our contacts, keeping our distance from others, wearing a face covering and washing our hands.
“Be aware of particularly risky settings – crowded indoor settings with poor ventilation where social distancing is difficult or impossible to maintain.
“If a shop, pub, café or household falls into that category and looks too busy, walk away.”