NI Executive To Meet On October 7 To Review NI COVID-19 Regulations
The Northern Ireland Executive will meet on Thursday October 7 to review Northern Ireland's COVID-19 regulations after deciding against making changes to them on Thursday September 23.
The news follows news from earlier this week that Northern Ireland First Minister Paul Givan said that he did not expect major changes to be made to Northern Ireland's COVID-19 rules at a meeting of the Executive that was scheduled to take place on Thursday September 23, as well as subsequent news that business groups have urged the Northern Ireland Executive to "start giving more light and less tunnel" and produce a timeline to lift all of the remaining COVID-19 pandemic-related restrictions in Northern Ireland.
As reported by rte.ie, the Northern Ireland Executive will also come together on Monday September 27 to specifically discuss social distancing in hospitality and retail settings, and whether there is a role for vaccine passports.
It is reportedly understood that that is influenced by the ending of the furlough scheme at the end of September, which is reportedly still supporting 36,000 people in Northern Ireland at present.
The Executive reportedly met for several hours on the afternoon of Thursday September 23 to consider any amendments to Northern Ireland's existing COVID-19 regulations, and reportedly decided in the end not to make any changes to the current regulations at this point.
The Executive will reportedly instead meet on October 7 to review the position, with any easements of regulations that are agreed on that date potentially taking effect from Thursday October 14.
First Minister And Deputy First Minister Statements
However, Givan and Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill reportedly said at a joint news conference that they do not expect all restrictions to end on October 14, and the mandatory wearing of face masks and the requirement for businesses to carry out venue risk assessments are likely to continue beyond that date.
O'Neill reportedly said that future changes to COVID-19 regulations are likely to be influenced by the amount of COVID-19 pressure on hospitals.
Health Advice And Areas Still Covered By COVID-19 Regulations Or Guidance In NI
Health officials reportedly recommended earlier on September 23 that no changes should be made to Northern Ireland's remaining COVID-19 regulations and guidance.
Remaining COVID-19 regulations in Northern Ireland include social distancing and mask wearing in some indoor hospitality and retail settings.
Ministers reportedly considered the health advice contained in an Executive Office paper that reportedly recommended that no changes should be made to Northern Ireland's current COVID-19 regulations.
The nine areas still covered by COVID-19 regulations or guidance in Northern Ireland reportedly are:
- domestic setting restrictions;
- a ban on large house parties and indoor raves;
- working from home messaging;
- the need to be seated to consume food and drink in a hospitality setting;
- the need to be seated at indoor music events and the ban on dancing;
- the requirement to wear face coverings in indoor areas such as retail and public transport;
- social distancing indoors;
- the need to carry out risk assessments to stage events;
- and the requirement to take contact details in certain settings.
At the meeting, ministers were reportedly also due to discuss changes to the travel framework.
Northern Ireland has followed changes made by the UK government that simplify the traffic light system, with categorisations of green and amber no longer to be used, but changes to pre-travel and post-arrival testing have not been introduced in Northern Ireland yet.
SDLP Leader Call And Statement
SDLP leader Colum Eastwood has reportedly called for the introduction of vaccine passports, which hospitality groups have reportedly resisted.
Eastwood reportedly said, "The truth is that we have two choices - increase vaccinations or introduce restrictions."
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