Executive removes social distancing for a range of indoor sectors - but proof of vaccination advised for some venues

The Stormont Executive has agreed to remove requirements to socially distance by one metre in retail, indoor visitor attractions and theatres, concert halls and cinemas.

Monday, 27th September 2021, 9:11 pm
Updated Monday, 27th September 2021, 9:23 pm

Ministers have, however, advised that proof of vaccination, a clear Covid test or proof of immunity be provided to access theatres, concert halls and cinemas.

Ministers released a statement tonight making the announcement, noting that furlough is due to end in a few days and stating they are “very aware” of the financial burden on businesses that aren’t yet able to operate at full capacity due to current social distancing restrictions and the “very real concerns” of people whose jobs are at risk.

“The Executive has today considered the existing regulations and has agreed to remove the legal requirement to socially distance in retail and indoor visitor attractions,” the statement said.

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First Minister Paul Givan, deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill with and other ministers released the statement. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

“We ask that those responsible for these venues, and those attending them, continue to utilise all other available mitigations such as hand sanitising, good ventilation, and using one way systems where possible. The wearing of a face covering remains a legal requirement in these settings.

“The Executive has also decided to remove the requirement to socially distance in indoor seated venues such as theatres, concert halls and cinemas. For this sector we advise that additional mitigating measures are utilised, including proof of being fully vaccinated, or proof of a negative lateral flow rapid test, or proof of natural immunity from a positive PCR test undertaken in the previous 30-180 days.”

Ministers also asked people to minimise “close face to face contact” in social settings.

“We know from our engagement with the arts, culture and events sectors that a number of venues and event organisers have already been limiting access to those who are fully vaccinated or can show the necessary test results. We welcome this approach and appreciate the willingness of the sector to work with us to achieve a safer reopening.”

The issue of social distancing in the hospitality sector will be considered at an Executive meeting next week along with the autumn-winter Covid Contingency Planning.

Ministers have agreed to beef up guidance to business and venue owners to mitigate the impact of allowing a return to full capacity.

The advice includes the installation of screening, one-way systems and increased ventilation.


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