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Alcohol-only pubs in Northern Ireland can reopen today for the first time since March

First Minister Arlene Foster said that Northern Ireland’s new restrictions was “a wake-up call” and not a second lockdown.

Image: Shutterstock/Dean Drobot

PUBS IN NORTHERN Ireland that don’t serve food can reopen today for the first time since March. A similar reopening of pubs in Ireland took place on Monday.

In both jurisdictions, the reopening of so-called ‘wet’ pubs had been repeatedly delayed as governments grappled with increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases.

On Monday, alcohol-only pubs in Ireland (but outside of Dublin) were permitted to open under strict Covid-19 measures: these included groups being limited to six people from three households, with a one-metre distance between each table and a time limit of 105 minutes. If a pub can implement a two-metre distance, there is no time limit.

All customers are to be off the premises by 11.30pm – this is the same curfew as in Scotland. In the England and Wales, pubs and restaurants must close by 10pm.

Fresh Covid-19 restrictions were extended to all of Northern Ireland last night, which First Minister and DUP leader Arlene Foster said was “a wake-up call”, and “despite all of the headlines this is not a second lockdown”.

The new rules mean there can be no mixing of households indoors, with some exemptions, while no more than six people from two households can meet in a garden.

Previously, the measures only applied to Belfast and Ballymena in Co Antrim.

The DUP leader described the additional restrictions as “tough”.

“Despite all of our divisions in Northern Ireland, our doors have always been open. We are good neighbours, we are naturally hospitable to everyone, but it is no kindness to host or attend large gatherings in each other’s homes at the moment.”

Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said they were “deeply concerned by the alarming levels of spread of the virus across the community”.

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“We are in a critical period in our response to this pandemic, which continues to escalate globally,” Sinn Féin’s leader in the North said.

There were 75 new confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Northern Ireland reported yesterday. There were no further deaths recorded by the Department of Health; the death toll recorded by the department remained at 577.

- With reporting from the Press Association

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