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Detailed: Executive confirms ‘significant relaxations’ to Covid restrictions starting from Monday

Both unlicensed and licensed premises indoors can re-open 'with mitigations'

The Executive has confirmed “significant relaxations” to the Covid-19 restrictions which will come into effect from Monday, May 24.

Ministers said the easements will be immensely beneficial to families, communities and the economy, and urged everyone to stay safe as they enjoy more freedoms.

First Minister Arlene Foster said: “I’m pleased that we are in a position to confirm the opening of more parts of our society from Monday. After an anxious wait for many, this is great news for our people and our economy. I want to thank the public for their patience and perseverance and I commend all those sectors who have worked diligently to prepare for restart.

“There is no doubt that the impacts of the pandemic over the last year will continue to be felt deeply. But in moving forward, there is hope. Now is a time to look ahead and to enjoy these hard won freedoms safely. We must continue to do all we can as a community to keep ourselves and each other safe and I appeal to everyone to be cautious to help ensure we can keep heading in the right direction.”

Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said: “This is a day of positive progress on our road to recovery as we have been able to confirm significant relaxations to the restrictions from Monday 24 May.

“As we begin to rebuild, we are very much focused on personal, societal and economic wellbeing. This latest set of easements will have wide-reaching benefits for individuals, families, businesses and workers. And after what has been an incredibly tough time for everyone, we want people to take the good of being able to do the things they have missed; whether that’s a meal out with friends, a visit to your parents’ house, a family day trip, or a dance class.

“As we look forward to better times, it is crucial that everyone continues taking steps to stop the virus from spreading. The last year has taught us that we can’t take anything for granted, so we are urging everyone to stay safe, be careful and help protect this good progress.”

The relaxations agreed by the Executive, which will come into effect on 24 May, are:

Home and community

Allow indoor visits in domestic settings
Up to 6 people from no more than 2 households
Does not include children under 12
Can be more if household has more than 6, but not more than 10
Overnight stays permitted

Removal of stay local message

Education and young people

Schools can resume extra-curricular activities
Indoor extra-curricular sports allowed
Outdoor inter-schools sports allowed
Day educational visits allowed

Culture, heritage and entertainment

Indoor visitor attractions can reopen
Includes amusement arcades, bingo halls, museums, galleries and cinemas
Social distancing where possible
Risk assessment to maximum capacity
All contact details must be taken and retained
Libraries can reopen. Provide limited in-library services in line with permitted gathering numbers

Sports and leisure activities

Indoor group exercise and training can resume
Includes soft play areas, leisure centres, gyms, swimming pools, equestrian centres, venues relating to motor sport and activity centres.
Numbers limited to suit the venue
Social distancing where possible
Risk assessment to maximum capacity
All contact details must be taken and retained

Full return to outdoor sport. Removal of:

The limit of 15;
The limit on squad training;
The requirement for outdoor sport being permitted only for those affiliated to a Governing body or an organisation that regulates a sport or sporting activity; and
The cap of 100 on competitive sporting events, and replace with an overall limit of 500 on all outdoor sporting events
Indoor club training in squads allowed
No limits on numbers

Travel and tourism

Reopen the remainder of travel and tourism
All contact details must be taken and retained
Rooms/accommodation area booking in line with the permission re indoor domestic settings/bubbles
Shared facilities will reopen
Meeting rooms will be reopened – capacity will be to risk assessment maximum

Post wedding and civil partnership receptions permitted
Risk assessment for capacity
No restriction on top table
Other tables maximum of 10 (no household restriction)
Children under 12 excluded from table numbers
One dance permitted for the couple
Music same as for licenced venues


Reopen unlicensed and licensed premises indoors with mitigations
6 together from unlimited households (indoor and outdoor)
Children under 12 are not counted in the 6
More will be permitted per table, if all are from one household, to a maximum of 10
Table service only
All contact details must be recorded and retained.
Social distancing required – minimum of 1m.
Must stay at table – no gaming machines, pool tables, etc.;
Face coverings must be worn once no longer seated for any reason, for example, to go to the toilet
No meal requirement
No dancing
No live music
Music must be at ambient level to permit normal conversation
Risk assessment as per current regulations for outdoors

Other hospitality events

For example gala dinners, functions, ticketed or not
Capacity to risk assessment maximum
Subject to other indoor hospitality requirements e.g. table seating, contact details, music etc.
Conference facilities in tourism sector – the closure will be removed from the Regulations to allow use for other purposes to risk assessment capacity.

Indoor and outdoor gatherings

Increase numbers permitted for indoor gatherings (non domestic)
Subject to risk assessment per venue
Allows resumption of community events
Risk assessment required if over 15 people
Increase numbers for outdoor gatherings
Increase to 500, or capped at risk assessment level if lower
Allows up to 500 spectators at any outdoors event (sport/concerts etc)
Risk assessment required if over 30 people
Lateral flow tests advised for any planned larger events.

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