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Coronavirus Northern Ireland: What is changing from July 26? 

List of relaxations below

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Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill and First Minister Paul Givan convened a virtual meeting of the Executive on Thursday (Presseye/PA)

Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill and First Minister Paul Givan convened a virtual meeting of the Executive on Thursday (Presseye/PA)

Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill and First Minister Paul Givan convened a virtual meeting of the Executive on Thursday (Presseye/PA)

The Northern Ireland Executive met on Thursday to ratify a number of changes to coronavirus restrictions, while delaying some decisions for a further discussion on Monday.

Changes to the amount of people able to meet in outdoor settings and a removal of the need to book a hairdressing appointment were agreed by ministers, while the reopening of theatres and concert venues is still under consideration.

In a statement on Thursday afternoon, the Northern Ireland Executive said "modest relaxations" had been agreed after careful consideration.

Coronavirus Data Graphs

What will change on July 26?

Domestic settings:

Changes to rules mean a maximum of 15 people from any number of households can meet outdoors in a private garden from Monday, paving the way for those summer BBQs and modest parties taking advantage of the warm weather.

Children aged 12 and under are not counted in the total number.

Close contact services:

Currently hairdressers and other close contact services are required to operate an appointment and booking system within their premises. From Monday this will be relaxed and people will be able to turn up for a walk-in haircut.

Travel:

The relaxations on travel are also due to come into effect from Monday. Arrivals into Northern Ireland from amber list countries, who have been fully vaccinated in the UK, will not have to self-isolate or take a day 8 test post-arrival.

The Executive confirmed that to qualify as a “fully vaccinated” person they will need to have received a full course of vaccination, including both doses and have received the vaccination at least 14 days previously.

Those exempt (IE treated as if they are fully vaccinated), include children under the age of 18, clinical trial participants and those with medical advice against vaccination.

Travellers will still have to take pre-departure tests – up to three days before departure - and will be required to take a PCR test on day two of their return.

It will also be necessary to complete a UK passenger locator form within 48 hours of departure.

The status of theatres and concert halls:

Theatres and concert venues were initially expected to be able to open from Monday, instead the Executive confirmed on Thursday they would be meeting again to decide whether to go ahead with this part of the relaxation.

Ministers will meet again next week to decide if theatres and other venues can reopen.

It is thought if they are given the go ahead at the meeting, venues could potentially open right away.

Other relaxations being considered next week:

Several other changes announced previously will also be reviewed again next week, including an increase to the limit on gatherings in indoor domestic settings from six to ten.

Ministers will also consider whether to lift current restrictions on MoT test centres.

Next week, ministers are also due to consider measures thought to be of higher risk:

  • These include lifting restrictions on indoor live music, including a proposal to end a requirement for the sound to be kept to an ambient level.
  • The resumption of conferences and exhibitions will also be considered.
  • Ministers will also at that point examine a proposal to end social distancing requirements for outdoor activities and reduce the distance to one metre for indoor settings.

The Executive are also due to discuss further significant relaxations at a second meeting next week on Thursday:

  • These include lifting restrictions on indoor live music, including a proposal to end a requirement for the sound to be kept to an ambient level.
  • The resumption of conferences and exhibitions will also be considered.
  • Ministers will also at that point examine a proposal to end social distancing requirements for outdoor activities and reduce the distance to one metre for indoor settings.
  • The legal requirement on wearing face coverings in places of worship is also set to be reviewed next week.

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