Relaxations Of Hospitality Sector Restrictions Announced For NI
A number of relaxations of COVID-19 pandemic-related hospitality sector restrictions have been announced for Northern Ireland.
A statement published on executiveoffice-ni.go.uk stated, "The Executive has today agreed a number of gradual and proportionate relaxations to the current coronavirus restrictions, informed by medical and scientific advice.
"The use of mitigating measures is key in easing restrictions and engagement has taken place across sectors on the partnership effort required to facilitate relaxations.
"14 October relaxations
"From next Thursday, October 14, the Executive has agreed that:
- "Further relaxations around the numbers permitted in private dwellings and a move away from the maximum number of people allowed to gather from 15 from four households to an overall cap of 30.
- "The requirement for audience members to be seated when watching performances in indoor venues will be removed.
"The regulations in relation to large house parties and raves will remain in place and are still not permitted.
"The Executive has also agreed a further package of relaxations from October 31. Over the next few weeks, further work will be carried out with the sectors to prepare for appropriate mitigations to be put in place in advance of the regulations being lifted.
"31 October relaxations
"The Executive has agreed a date of October 31 for the following relaxations, with mitigations in place:
- "Allow people to move around hospitality premises and indoor venues, including being able to stand to have a drink and eat food.
- "The restriction on indoor dancing will be lifted.
- "The need to maintain social distancing in hospitality settings, such as pubs and restaurants, will move to guidance. Whilst the legal requirement for social distancing will now be removed, people are asked to keep close face-to-face contact to a minimum at all times.
- "Nightclubs will be permitted to reopen.
"These relaxations rely on the adoption and implementation of measures that will help reduce the transmission of the virus and allow people to gather more safely in settings that would otherwise be considered higher risk.
"Extensive engagement has taken place with the arts, entertainment and hospitality sectors and there has been a positive response to taking additional steps to ensure the safety of customers, staff and the wider community.
"It is strongly recommended that venues and event organisers require individuals to demonstrate one of the following:
- "Proof of having been fully vaccinated for more than two weeks;
- "Proof of a negative PCR test or rapid lateral flow test taken within 48 hours of entry to a venue (a lateral flow test taken at home will need to be reported into the public reporting system); or
- "Evidence of a positive PCR test result for COVID-19 within the previous 180 days and following completion of the self-isolation period.
"Some venues are already implementing these measures to help keep people safe and provide assurances to those attending their venues that all appropriate measures are being taken to protect them.
"As we step our way out of restrictions, it requires both personal and sectoral responsibility. This is very much a partnership effort and the Executive COVID Taskforce will work with sectors in advance of the regulations being lifted to ensure the appropriate mitigations are in place.
"Autumn Winter Covid contingency planning
"The Executive also considered its Autumn Winter COVID Contingency Planning and what options it has at its disposal in the event of rising cases numbers or unsustainable pressures on our hospitals.
- "Having available the ability to deliver COVID-status certification in certain settings if it was considered desirable and appropriate;
- "The potential to tighten arrangements for self-isolation or minimum social distancing in higher risk settings; and;
- "Fresh, cohesive messaging about safe behaviours focusing on maximizing vaccine uptake, the need for effective ventilation and the importance of wearing a face covering, particularly in crowded and enclosed settings.
"These options will build on the measures we have retained to help reduce the spread of the virus, those being flexible and hybrid working, the requirement for businesses to carry out risk assessments and record visitor and attendee information, and the requirement to wear face covering in certain settings, such as in shops, shopping centres and public transport.
"Personal responsibility and safer choices
"We have come a long way through exceptionally challenging times - all of our lives have been changed in previously unimaginable ways.
"But we have made great progress and we have been able to remove the vast majority of the necessary measures that stopped us doing things we once took for granted.
"We would again like to take this opportunity to ask everyone to continue making safer choices and follow the public health advice. Take up the vaccine; keep washing your hands, wear a face covering as required and open a window when with others. This will help to keep you and others safe, and therefore help reduce the pressure on our health system as we move into a time of year that is always a tough time for our health service and its workers."
First Minister And Deputy First Minister Statements
As reported by rte.ie, Northern Ireland First Minister Paul Givan said that he is pleased that restrictions on a "wide range of issues" will be completed by the end of October, and, "There will be three areas left; that will be the wearing of face coverings in some limited areas, when it comes to the retention of risk assessments and also the retention of data around visitors to venues and hospitality.
"They will be low-level mitigation measures which will stay in law, there will be guidance when it comes to a lot of the sectors that our operating across our society and economy that will remain in place in a voluntary guidance format."
Givan and Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill reportedly said that work on COVID-19 vaccine passports is ongoing, and reportedly urged the public to work together to avoid them being made mandatory.
O'Neill reportedly said, "We don't want to go down the mandatory route if we don't have to,", and reportedly urged "safer choices".
Givan reportedly said that he feels that it is about "partnership" - in terms of people being responsible and businesses and sectors working with the Northern Ireland Executive.
Givan reportedly said that there has been a high level of adherence to the rules in the hospitality sector, and, "I am hopeful that this voluntary approach will work."
International Travel Update
An international update has also been announced for Northern Ireland.
A statement published on health-ni.go.uk said, "A number of changes to international travel have been announced, including the addition of 38 countries to the fully vaccinated policy and the removal of a significant number of countries from the 'red list'.
"As of Monday 4 October, the rules for international travel to Northern Ireland changed from the traffic light system to a system for 'red list of countries' and simplified travel measures for arrivals from 'non-red list countries' who meet the fully vaccinated criteria.
"To qualify as 'fully vaccinated', individuals must have been fully vaccinated for at least 14 days under an approved vaccination programme.
"From 4am on Monday 11 October, the list of approved programmes will be extended to include vaccination programmes in a further 38 countries. This includes those vaccinated in: Albania, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Egypt, Ghana, Grenada, Hong Kong, India, Jamaica, Jordan, Kenya, Kosovo, Maldives, Moldova, Morocco, Nigeria, North Macedonia, Oman, Pakistan, Serbia, St Kitts & Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent & The Grenadines, Turkey, Ukraine, United Nations and Vietnam, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Georgia, Indonesia, Montenegro, Namibia, The Philippines, South Africa and Thailand.
"In addition, the UN vaccination programme will also be included in the vaccinated policy.
"EU arrivals will also be able to show negative post-departure status using EUDCC and Dutch COVID (CoronaCheck) app.
"The simplified measures that fully vaccinated individuals are required to adhere to when travelling to Northern Ireland from a non-red list country are available on NI Direct.
"Requirements for those who are not fully vaccinated and travelling to Northern Ireland from a non-red list country are published on NI Direct.
"Changes to red list
"From 4am on Monday 11 October the red list will only include the following seven countries:
- "Dominican Republic
"Anyone arriving from a red list country must adhere to all testing and quarantine requirements, regardless of vaccination status. Rules for red list countries are available on NI Direct."
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