Changes to Covid-19 rules around hospitality and household mixing are among the latest easing of restrictions that come into force today.
From 5pm today, the requirement for venues to operate with table service only will be removed, meaning customers can order at the bar for the first time since the start of the pandemic.
Masks must still be worn when moving around venues and the requirement to consume food and drinks at a table remains in place.
Fifteen people from four households will also be allowed to mix inside a home, increasing the current cap of 10 people.
Wedding guests will also be able to strut their stuff as restrictions on dancing at weddings and civil partnerships will also be lifted. Nightclubs are not included in this and will remain closed.
Colm Broderick, the Omagh Chamber of Commerce chairman and owner of Brodericks Bar, welcomed the changes but said he hopes things will progress further in the coming weeks.
He told the Ulster Herald, “This will help the hospitality industry, which is short-staffed as it is. It saves the need for waiters and waitresses to go down and deliver the drink and people can now come to the counter and order.
“What we really need is stools back at the counter again because that’s what the pub is; chatting to the bartender over the counter and coming in for a sociable drink.”
First Minister Paul Givan has said he would like to see all remaining restrictions lifted by the end of the month and for the North to be brought in line with England and Scotland. This would require agreement from all parties in the Executive.
The Republic is set to remove almost all of its restrictions by the end of October.
By James Kelly