Stormont Ministers To Consider Proposed Relaxations Of COVID-19 Pandemic-Related Travel Rules In Northern Ireland
Stormont ministers will consider proposed relaxations of COVID-19 pandemic-related rules on international travel in Northern Ireland today (Thursday July 29).
As reported by rte.ie, Northern Ireland Health Minister Robin Swann has circulated a paper to Executive colleagues proposing that Northern Ireland follows the rest of the UK from Monday August 2 by permitting individuals from EU "amber" countries and the US who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to enter Northern Ireland without the requirement to quarantine.
The PA news agency reportedly understands that Swann will also bring a proposal to the Executive that UEFA VIP guests and Villarreal fans travelling to attend the Super Cup in Belfast on August 11 be exempt from the requirement to quarantine.
Chelsea fans who are travelling from England for the showpiece match are reportedly already exempt from travel restrictions.
Other Proposals On Travel That Will Be Considered
Other proposals on travel that will be considered by the Executive today reportedly include the return of international cruises from Saturday July 31, as well as a proposal for managed isolation arrangements for international students arriving from "red list" countries ahead of the new academic term. If approved, the latter arrangements would come into effect on August 9.
Additionally, Swann reportedly wants to establish a bespoke COVID-19 testing regime for international travellers whose jobs qualify them for quarantine exemptions, which would potentially come into effect on Monday August 2.
Other Possible Rule Relaxations
At today's virtual meeting, ministers will reportedly also consider some other relaxations of COVID-19 rules in Northern Ireland, including the resumption of conferences and exhibitions, a proposal to end social distancing requirements for outdoor activities and the reduction of the required social distance for indoor settings to one metre.
It is reportedly unclear whether final decisions will be taken on those steps, which are categorised as "higher risk", and ministers reportedly could decide to defer them to their next scheduled meeting on August 12.
Increasing Positive COVID-19 Case Numbers
The weekly update from senior health officials will reportedly inform ministers of evidence that increasing positive COVID-19 case numbers in Northern Ireland may have "plateaued" in recent days.
Two explanations are reportedly offered for this - altered behaviours due to good weather or higher levels of immunity among younger people. If the former is correct, the advisors reportedly predict that case numbers will begin to increase again, and if it is the latter is correct, they reportedly expect a gradual decrease in case numbers.
Ministers will reportedly also be told that the Delta variant of COVID-19 now accounts for 90% of COVID-19 cases in Northern Ireland.
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