The Executive have agreed a number of changes to covid-19 restrictions which will come into effect at 6pm today, Friday, July 30.
Changes have been made to social distancing rules, and there will be be a fuller discussion on August 12.
Reaching their decision, the Executive has ‘noted the health benefits of social distancing, the economic benefits of sectors and venues re-opening, and the societal benefits this brings.’
In shopping centres, regulations will move from 2m to 1m, consistent with other indoor settings like hospitality and indoor attractions.
Outdoor, the guidance will strongly advise, but not require, 2m where possible.
Noting their concern about the spread of the virus and its transmissibility, the Executive called on all venues, customers and attendees to follow all the public health advice on matters such as hand washing, wearing of face coverings, the benefits of taking lateral flow tests, and the essential need to self-isolate if you have a positive test or are otherwise asked to do so.
Live music venues
Live music is now allowed in indoor venues such as function rooms of hotels, or community halls, as well as concert halls and theatres.
There will be no restriction to background or ambient levels of volume, but the event must be controlled so that the volume of the music does not breach ambient or background levels in other parts of the premises.
Entry to performances for audiences will be by ticket only. Tickets must be purchased in advance of the performance. Audiences for indoor events must have allocated seating and remain seated, dancing will not be permitted and social distancing of 1m will be required.
Use of risk reduction measures
The use of lateral flow testing for all events is strongly advised as a measure to reduce risk. Social distancing; the use of face coverings; and holding events outdoors where possible, are also advised as mitigating measures.
From August 2 there will be a pilot roll out of the expansion of the amber vaccinated arrivals policy to include people vaccinated in any of the EU27 (except France); EFTA countries (Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein); and the European microstate countries (Andorra, Monaco, and Vatican City) and the United States.
In relation to arrivals from the United States, it was agreed that the policy approach will be that: only people fully vaccinated with FDA-approved vaccines in the US rollout, who can present a CDC card as proof of vaccination, would be included. A requirement to prove residency in addition to the CDC card for US arrivals was agreed, to mitigate against fraud.
From July 31, international cruises will restart in line with the traffic light system, with strong guidance to the sector outlining the need to manage increased risks and maintain risk mitigations (including use of vaccination and testing), alongside continued monitoring of cruise data and clear contingency plans.
Measures will be put in place to facilitate alternative managed isolation arrangements for international student arrivals from red list countries from 9 August.
From August 2, a bespoke testing regime will be implemented, which will apply to NI international arrivals exempt from self-isolation because they are travelling for work. This will only apply to specific types of work as outlined in the regulations.
An exemption from self-isolation for Villarreal fans and UEFA VIPs travelling for the Super Cup Final on 11 August will be put in place, with the IFA putting in place a range of mitigations.
The Executive today also agreed the Building Forward – Consolidated Covid Recovery Plan that we will publish tomorrow.
The purpose of the draft Recovery Plan is to accelerate economic, health and societal recovery in the short term so we can emerge stronger and also to transform and innovate to plan now for longer term ambitions.