Indicative dates for further relaxations to the Coronavirus regulations have been announced by the Executive.

The comprehensive timetable of indicative dates is intended to give notice that will help to facilitate preparations for safe restart and reopening. Each proposed easement will remain under review until it can be ratified by the Executive ahead of the indicative date, based on the emerging situation.

The indicative relaxations agreed by the Executive on Thursday 25 June include:

  • Resumption of contact sport training (29 June)
  • Reopening of betting shops (3 July)
  • Resumption of further close contact services including tattoo parlours, piercings and spas (6 July)
  • Reopening of indoor gyms (10 July)
  • Reopening of outdoor leisure playgrounds (10 July)
  • Reopening of libraries (16 July)
  • Competitive sports (17 July)
  • Limited numbers of outdoor spectators permitted (17 July) with numbers increased at a later date (31 July)
  • Reopening of seated venues including cinemas and bingo halls (29 July)
  • Reopening of indoor sports courts and skating rinks (7 August)
  • Reopening of arcades (29 July)
  • Leisure centres and soft play areas (7 August)
  • Socially distanced indoor spectators permitted (28 August)
  • Open air museums (late August)

Northern Ireland’s 25 zoo licence holders can also reopen their businesses to the public from 3 July 2020, after closing due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots has announced.

There will be further consideration of weddings and funerals and other gatherings early next week.

Following an update on the current virus transmission levels, the Executive has also confirmed the following relaxations to take effect over the coming weeks:

  • Opening places of worship from Monday, 29 June;
  • Indoor training for elite and grass roots athletes, 29 June;
  • Holiday and tourism accommodation, including holiday apartments, homes, cottages, bungalows, caravan parks and campsites from tomorrow, 26 June;
  • Travel to stay in a second home from tomorrow, 26 June;
  • The re-opening of hotels, restaurants, bars, cafes and coffee shops from 3 July;
  • The re-opening of visitor attractions from 3 July; and
  • The re-opening of nail, hair, beauty, barbers, tanning salons, electrolysis and acupuncture from 6 July.

The Executive continued its consideration of social distancing requirements and have agreed that 2 metres remains the optimum distance to maintain physical distance where possible. However, the Executive has indicated that, where appropriate mitigations can be made, a distance of no less than 1 metre between individuals should be adhered to. Ministers will engage quickly with the hospitality sector to discuss this issue.

First Minister Arlene Foster said: “Today we have reached the next rung in the ladder of our recovery journey as we have been able to confirm the reopening of significant sections of our economy over the next number of weeks.

“Our tourism and hospitality sectors have been working incredibly hard alongside the Department for the Economy to put all the necessary precautions in place to ensure the safety of staff and customers as we work together to kick-start our economy once again.

“Our places of worship have also been working intensively to welcome congregations back safely, albeit on a limited basis. I know that many will take comfort in being able to come back together again in collective worship from next week.

“As we continue with our phased approach to relaxations, our key priority remains keeping people safe. It’s important that all sectors have as much time as possible to plan ahead and prepare for safe reopening, which is why we have brought forward today a timetable with indicative dates for future relaxations.”

Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said: “In light of the current advice on the transmission of the Coronavirus in our community, the Executive has been able to confirm a number of relaxations to the restrictions that remain in place. Over the next two weeks, people can now look forward to enjoying a new normality as our tourism and hospitality businesses reopen; collective worship can resume; and long overdue haircuts can take place.

“As we work to progress wider economic and societal recovery from this pandemic we are also very mindful of the impacts these restrictions have had on individual lives and livelihoods.

“We undertook to not keep any restriction in place longer than necessary and to keep people updated throughout this process, which has been uncharted water for us all. I know that many workers and business owners have been looking on as we have been able to move on other areas while their work has remained restricted and I’m pleased today that we have been able to provide those sectors with a date to work towards.”

Health Minister Robin Swann said: “The Executive has been able to confirm further progress in our recovery strategy today, as well as provide an indicative timeline for future easements.

“In the event of any significant outbreaks or increase in transmission the Executive has agreed that this timeline will be kept under review. None of this is without risk and will be subject to advice from our scientific and medical experts closer to the time of each proposed relaxation.

“We must emphasise that recovery and the application of public health guidance go hand in hand and it is vital that all sectors, businesses, and individuals take the necessary actions that are required to protect us all and limit the spread of Coronavirus.”

Nadia Duncan

Author: Nadia Duncan

Editor

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