Social distancing in shops and indoor venues to end in Northern Ireland


Stormont ministers have agreed to end social distancing restrictions on shops, theaters and a number of other indoor venues in Northern Ireland.

At a Monday night meeting, ministers agreed to remove the one-meter distance requirement for the retail sector, indoor attractions and indoor seating areas.

Ministers agreed to strengthen guidelines for business and site owners to mitigate the impact of the return to full capacity.

Prime Minister Paul Givan tweeted: “Progress made after a constructive executive meeting to remove social distancing requirements for indoor meeting rooms, indoor tourist attractions and retail stores.

“Advice will be provided on steps that can be taken to mitigate the risks.”

The measures are due to go into effect Thursday at 6 p.m. On October 7, the hospitality sector will be examined further.

Face to face contact

The executive said that despite the removal of the social distancing requirement, “we would ask people to keep a minimum of face to face contact at all times.”

A statement from the executive said: “With the end of the leave scheduled to end in a few days, we are very aware of the financial burden on businesses that are not yet able to operate at full capacity due to current restrictions on social distancing and the very real concerns of those people whose jobs are at risk.

“The executive today reviewed existing regulations and agreed to remove the legal requirement to socially distance oneself in retail and domestic tourist attractions.

“We ask those responsible for these sites and those who frequent them to continue to use all other available mitigation measures, such as hand sanitization, good ventilation and the use of one-way systems as far as possible. possible.

“Wearing a face cover remains a legal obligation in these circles.

“The executive also decided to remove the social distancing requirement in indoor venues such as theaters, concert halls and cinemas.”

Advice includes installing screens, one-way systems and increased ventilation.

Regarding sites sitting indoors, ministers will issue additional guidance to sites advising them that they are introducing entry policies that require proof of Covid-19 vaccination, negative side-flow testing, or proof a positive PCR test within the previous six months.

Hotel sector

Ministers did not consider social distancing in the hospitality industry during Monday’s virtual meeting.

This will be considered at an executive meeting next week.

It is understood that bars and food service areas in indoor retail locations, indoor attractions and indoor indoor venues will be categorized as hospitality and the one meter rule will continue to apply at such locations.

The possibility for Stormont to introduce compulsory Covid passports for access to the sites was not decided during the virtual meeting on Monday.

Economy Minister Gordon Lyons has expressed doubts over the use of mandatory vaccine passports in Northern Ireland (Liam McBurney / PA)

Earlier Monday, Economy Minister Gordon Lyons expressed doubts over the use of compulsory vaccine passports in Northern Ireland.

His comments suggest the issue could become a sticking point for parties within the executive, given that Sinn Féin has made it clear that he will be open to vaccine certification if the decision is recommended by heads of government. health.

The SDLP called last week for the introduction of a program as a way to increase immunization rates.

While English authorities have put aside plans for vaccine passports, administrations in Scotland and Wales are introducing programs next month.

An access program to pubs and restaurants in the Republic of Ireland, which has raised vaccination rates among young people, is scheduled to end on 22 October.

Four more deaths of patients who tested positive for Covid-19 were reported in Northern Ireland on Monday, along with 903 new confirmed cases of the virus.

As of Monday morning, there were 345 Covid-19 patients in the hospital, including 28 in intensive care.


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