Stormont ministers give green light to further wave of Covid-19 relaxations
Stormont ministers have agreed to press ahead with a series of further relaxations of Covid-19 rules in Northern Ireland.
The powersharing has also agreed a “green list” for international travel, opening the way for holiday makers to travel to a limited number of foreign destinations without having to quarantine on their return.
Portugal has been included on a list that is in line with those already agreed elsewhere in the UK.
The PA news agency understands ministers agreed the following relaxations during a virtual meeting of the Stormont Executive on Thursday.
From Monday May 24, indoor hospitality can resume in Northern Ireland while people will be able to meet inside private homes for the first time this year.
Six people from no more than two households will be able to meet in a private dwelling and stay overnight.
All tourism accommodation will also be able to reopen on May 24.
A limit on the size of outdoor gatherings will increase to 500 – a number that will also apply to the number of spectators able to attend sporting fixtures.
Indoor group exercise is allowed again, enabling indoor sports teams to resume training.
Indoor visitor and cultural attractions can also reopen from May 24 – this includes museums, galleries, cinemas, indoor play areas, bowling alleys, amusement arcades, bingo halls and libraries.
In regard to indoor hospitality, people can sit at tables of six people with no limit on households. It will be table service only.
Post-wedding and civil partnership receptions can also take place once again.
There will be no limit on the numbers at the top table, with a limit of 10 for other tables. Dancing will be restricted to a couple’s first dance.
Under relaxations agreed at Thursday’s Executive meeting, Stormont’s Stay Local message is also to be removed.
Schools can resume extra-curricular activities, indoor extra-curricular sports, outdoor inter-schools sports and day educational visits.
Ministers also considered Northern Ireland’s policy on international travel and have agreed a “green list” of countries where people can travel to without having to quarantine on their return.
There were discussions at the Executive whether Portugal would be among the countries on the list, with ministers ultimately agreeing to give the popular holiday destination green status.
It is understood the Northern Ireland list will follow those agreed elsewhere in the UK and include destinations like Israel, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Iceland.
It is understood those travelling back from a number of the green list countries, including Portugal, Singapore and Israel, will have to undergo Covid-19 testing on their return to Northern Ireland.