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Green light for vaccinated NI travellers returning from hotspots

Executive agrees that self-isolation will no longer be a requirement

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Date: Paul Givan said July 26 would be a significant day for NI’s return to normality. Credit: Liam McBurney

Date: Paul Givan said July 26 would be a significant day for NI’s return to normality. Credit: Liam McBurney

Date: Paul Givan said July 26 would be a significant day for NI’s return to normality. Credit: Liam McBurney

Fully vaccinated holidaymakers returning to Northern Ireland from amber list countries will no longer have to self-isolate from later this month, Stormont ministers have agreed. 

The Executive yesterday agreed a further wave of Covid-19 relaxations, including the end of social-distancing requirements for outdoor activities and a reduction of the distance to one metre for indoor settings, from July 26.

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

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

Coronavirus Data Graphs

Travellers will still be required to take a PCR test on day two of their return.

Northern Ireland yesterday recorded 627 new Covid-19 cases — the highest number of daily cases since January 26.

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

The number of Covid-19 inpatients is continuing to rise, with 48 people in hospital, of whom three were in intensive care.

Meanwhile, Executive ministers have also 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 yesterday’s meeting, First Minister Paul Givan said July 26 would be a “very significant” day for Northern Ireland’s journey back to normality.

While the decisions have been taken amid rising infection rates, Mr Givan said health experts had provided assurances to ministers that the link between transmission and fatalities had been “considerably weakened” by the vaccine roll out.

“Certainly we’re well on the way in terms of our road map out of these restrictions before the end of the summer,” Mr Givan added.

Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill reiterated her view that the moves outlined for England on July 19 were “reckless” and Stormont would certainly not be following the “Boris Johnson approach”.

Instead Ms O’Neill said ministers had agreed a “cautious and balanced” way forward but they could not predict when all the restrictions would come to an end in Northern Ireland.

“I wish I had a crystal ball and I wish I could say today there’s going to be an end date," she said.

"We don’t have that, we’re not there yet, so what we’ll do is each three-week interval we’ll come back to a fresh set of decisions.

“I think we’ve got a number of intervals to go before we can get towards the end.”

Retail NI chief executive Glyn Roberts said: “While there will be some disappointment that we are not moving faster, these decisions do give us an outline of a roadmap toward the full reopening of our economy and a return to some sort of normality.”


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