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Restrictions have relaxed in the North today - with pubs and restaurants opening for indoor service

Tourism accommodation opens and indoor dining will resume in the North today.
May 24th 2021, 6:16 AM 18,495 15

Updated May 24th 2021, 12:00 PM

coronavirus-mon-may-24-2021 Tommy Brady, 78, enjoying his first pint since Christmas Eve at The Garrick Bar in Belfast. Source: PA

NORTHERN IRELAND’S PUBS have reopened, as the region eases its restrictions further to allow for the return of indoor hospitality.

From today, a maximum of six people can sit together inside pubs, cafes and restaurants.

Children under 12 are not included in the above total – but the maximum number of people at the table (including adults and children) should not exceed 10.

More than six people will be permitted if they all belong to the same household, but once again the limit cannot exceed 10 people.

There will be no meal requirement in pubs – or at cafés and restaurants – and only table service will be available.

coronavirus-mon-may-24-2021 Cliff Giles enjoying his first pint of lager since Christmas. Source: PA

Live music or dancing is not allowed and face-coverings must be worn when leaving the table. Establishments must also ensure that social distancing is adhered to.

Stormont has also compiled a “green list” for international travel which will comprise of a limited number of foreign destinations that holidaymakers can travel to without having to quarantine upon their return.

Those travelling back from a number of the green list countries will have to undergo Covid-19 testing on their return to Northern Ireland.

All tourism accommodation also opens in the North today.

coronavirus-mon-may-24-2021 Customers returning to indoor hospitality at D&G's Bistro Cafe at Smithfield Market in Belfast. Source: PA Images

Indoor home visits will be allowed for two different households. Overnight stays are also permitted.

Post-wedding and civil partnership receptions can also take place once again.

There will be no limit on the numbers at the top table, with a limit of 10 for other tables. Dancing will be restricted to a couple’s first dance.

Previously, receptions were not allowed. The numbers allowed to attend the wedding or civil partnership venue were determined by a risk assessment and up to 15 people could gather outside the venue to spectate. 

Under the easing of restrictions agreed, Stormont’s ‘Stay Local’ message is also to be removed.

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coronavirus-mon-may-24-2021 Northern Ireland Economy Minister Diane Dodds (left) welcomes the reopening of indoor hospitality at the Grand Central Hotel in Belfast Source: PA Images

Grand Central Hotel general manager Stephen Meldrum said over the last four weeks they have been preparing for the reopening to the public.

“Bookings have been very strong, over the last four weeks we have seen a marginal increase in bookings, particularly at the weekends where people want to come to the city centre and enjoy various parts of hospitality.”

While it may be some time before the hotel can welcome international visitors back, Meldrum said they understand there is huge interest in coming to Northern Ireland.

Our sales team have been saying that the appetite for international travel is huge, particularly with the North American market who really want to get back to Northern Ireland and experience the great hospitality we have to offer.

Indoor visitor attractions can also open, including amusement arcades, museums, galleries and cinemas. Libraries will also open.

Gyms and pools will open as indoor groups exercise and training can resume. There will also be a full return to outdoor sport and removal of all previous restrictions.

The maximum number of spectators to outdoor sport or any outdoor event is 500.

Schools can resume extra-curricular activities, indoor extra-curricular sports, outdoor inter-schools sports and day educational visits.

With reporting from Press Association.

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Niamh Quinlan

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