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Coronavirus Northern Ireland: Executive gives theatres and concerts green light to reopen on Tuesday 

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Theatres can now reopen in Northern Ireland from 6pm on Tuesday.

Theatres can now reopen in Northern Ireland from 6pm on Tuesday.

Theatres can now reopen in Northern Ireland from 6pm on Tuesday.

The Executive has agreed that theatres and concert venues can reopen from 6pm on Tuesday.

Ministers met on Monday after delaying the decision, insisting they wanted more information about risks.

As part of the move to allow theatres and concert venues to reopen, the Executive has agreed live music will be permitted for rehearsals and performances with no restriction to background ambient levels of volume.

Audience members must purchase tickets in advance, must have allocated seating and social distancing of 1m (3ft) will be required.

The announcement will likely be welcomed by the sector which has been badly hit by restrictions.

Elsewhere, fully vaccinated people returning to Northern Ireland from amber countries will not have to self-isolate.

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Meanwhile, 10 people from three households will be allowed to meet inside a home, with children aged 12 and under not counting towards that total.

Previously the rules permitted six people from two households to meet inside, with up to 10 people allowed if one household was bigger than six people.

It was  also agreed that people attending religious services will not have to wear face coverings during the service. It will be guidance only to wear a covering.

Other restrictions changed include allowing 15 people from unlimited households to meet outdoors and close-contact services being allowed to operate without the need for pre-booked appointments.

Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey has welcomed the Executive’s announcement, saying: “I expect all venue promoters to have safety measures in place to ensure that staff and audiences are in a Covid safe environment.

"I believe that equality of access to the arts, be that through participation or as a member of the audience, is crucial and I look forward to attending a performance in the time ahead.”

She continued: “The huge part that the arts play in our lives has come into sharp focus through the closure of theatres, concert halls and other venues during the pandemic with the necessary cancellation of so many performances.

“When these venues suffer so does our economy as they employ thousands of staff directly and indirectly, they help boost tourism and also work to support our hospitality sector.”

The Minister added: “I will be meeting with the Taskforce chair, Rotha Johnston, later in the week to discuss how financial support for the sector might be best directed.”

The executive will meet again on Thursday to deliberate other restrictions.

Monday’s decision comes as a further 639 cases of Covid-19 have been reported in Northern Ireland, according to Department of Health figures.

No further deaths of patients who had previously tested positive for the virus have been notified.
On Monday morning there were 208 Covid-19 positive patients in hospital, with 25 in intensive care.
In total, 2,208,466 vaccines have been administered.

Northern Ireland's chief nursing officer Charlotte McArdle has warned that the reopening of region-wide Nightingale facility at Belfast City Hospital would become a "very real possibility" if the surge in ICU covid patients continues.

Ms McArdle said the numbers in ICU had increased significantly in Northern Ireland over the weekend, with 27 Covid-19 patients in intensive care as of Sunday.

The senior nurse's comments came after both the Belfast Trust and the South Eastern Trust issued emergency appeals to off-duty staff on Sunday to come in to work to help colleagues deal with the escalating situation.

Ms McArdle said around 60% of those being admitted to hospital in Belfast had not been vaccinated. 

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