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Boost for Northern Ireland holidaymakers as quarantine rules around travel eased by Executive

First Minister says NI on ‘roadmap’ out of restrictions by end of summer

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Paul Givan and Michelle O’Neill. (Kelvin Boyes/PA)

Paul Givan and Michelle O’Neill. (Kelvin Boyes/PA)

Paul Givan and Michelle O’Neill. (Kelvin Boyes/PA)

Holidaymakers returning to Northern Ireland from amber list countries who have been double jabbed will not need to self-isolate.

The Stormont Executive met on Thursday to decide on potential relaxations of Northern Ireland’s Covid-19 restrictions.

Ministers agreed travellers who return into Northern Ireland from an amber list country will not need to isolate, as long as they have received both vaccination doses.

Coronavirus Data Graphs

The First Minister Paul Givan said the DUP wanted to see relaxations “carried forward earlier” but said the Executive has landed on a road map out of restrictions from July 26.

Currently, those arriving into any of the UK nations have to follow strict rules regardless of their vaccine status, and anyone returning from countries on the amber or red list must isolate for 10 days.

Most traditional holiday destinations - including hotspots such as mainland Spain, Greece and the US - are on the amber list.

The decision from the Executive follows on the back of the announcement by UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, who said the new rules would apply from July 19 in England.

It is thought that travellers will still have to take pre-departure tests and will be required to take a PCR test on day two of their return.

The decision comes as Northern Ireland recorded another 627 positive cases in the past 24 hours.

It is the highest number of daily cases since January 26.

There has been 3,257 positive cases in the last week, up from 2,122 in the previous seven days - a jump of 1,135.

The figures were compiled in the 24 hours up to 10am on Thursday.

The death toll remains at 2,156 in Northern Ireland since the outbreak began as no further deaths were reported.

Meanwhile, Executive ministers have agreed to an indicative date to allow the return of live music indoors with no restrictions on sounds levels, alongside the return of theatres with mitigations.

An indicative date of July 26 will see the reopening of conference events and theatre performances in Northern Ireland, with an increase of the number of people allowed to meet in a private home.

There will be a number of further relaxations on this date, with close contact services no longer being required to operate an appointment system and the removal of the requirement of face coverings in places of worship and in school classrooms.

The changes on July 26 will be subject to ratification at an Executive meeting on July 22.

August 12 will see the Executive discuss removing face mask regulations more extensively and the review of wider relaxation on social distancing that could take place on August 16,

Speaking at Stormont following the meeting, First Minister Paul Givan said: “We did land on a road map which now has 26 July as a very significant date. We will have another Executive meeting on 12 August where we will have further proposals being implemented to take effect on 16 August.

"That has been agreed by the Executive. We also agreed today to have discussions on 12 August around the mandatory need on having face masks in all settings. 

“There will be a change at our meeting on 22 July on social distancing guidance, reducing that from 2 metres to 1 metre and outdoors altogether. We have been making progress out of the restrictions where we are today is not where we were three months ago.

"We are well on the way in terms of a road map out of these restrictions by the end of the summer.”

Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill added: “It is a balanced way forward. I think the public have been very understanding the whole way through. We are all fatigued with Covid but we are at the final stages and we just need people to work with us to get that final push.

"I don’t think the approach that has been taken in England this week is the right approach. We have demonstrated progress but it is steady progress. We need more people, particularly young people, to come forward and get the vaccine.”


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