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Hospitality workers welcome end of Covid certification requirement

Nightclubs can also now reopen, although vaccine certification will still be required for access.

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L-R Marie Rice, Lelda Viksna, Lisa McAvoy and Hugh Boyle at the Shelbourne bakery in Newry Co Down as the requirement for vaccine passports in restaurants is dropped in Northern Ireland (Niall Carson/PA)

L-R Marie Rice, Lelda Viksna, Lisa McAvoy and Hugh Boyle at the Shelbourne bakery in Newry Co Down as the requirement for vaccine passports in restaurants is dropped in Northern Ireland (Niall Carson/PA)

L-R Marie Rice, Lelda Viksna, Lisa McAvoy and Hugh Boyle at the Shelbourne bakery in Newry Co Down as the requirement for vaccine passports in restaurants is dropped in Northern Ireland (Niall Carson/PA)

Workers in the hospitality sector have welcomed the latest easing of Covid-19 restrictions in Northern Ireland.

From noon on Wednesday, the legal requirement to provide Covid certification to enter bars, restaurants and cinemas ended.

Nightclubs can also now reopen, although vaccine certification will still be required for access to these venues.

In workplaces, the requirement to take reasonable measures for two-metre social distancing has also been removed.

It follows the ending on Friday of the requirement to remain seated and the limit of six per table at hospitality venues.

Staff at the Shelbourne Bakery and Restaurant in Newry said they hoped that business could now return to normal.

We were trying to keep everybody still employed but we had less customers, less businessManager Edel Farrell

Restaurant manager Edel Farrell said: “We can see a small bit of a change. We have the weekend coming and we expect to be very busy come Friday, Saturday.

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“We would have had, and we still do have, a lot of elderly customers so I feel they would feel a bit more secure and less anxious about coming out.

“We are a very big restaurant, we have 250 seats at capacity before restrictions, so it is great that we can offer all that again.

“We really had anything from 100-150 max (during restrictions), we still had the same area but with social distancing requirements we did lose out on at least 100 seats.

“We were trying to keep everybody still employed but we had less customers, less business.”

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Waitress Lelda Viksna at the Shelbourne bakery in Newry Co Down (Niall Carson/PA)

Waitress Lelda Viksna at the Shelbourne bakery in Newry Co Down (Niall Carson/PA)

PA

Waitress Lelda Viksna at the Shelbourne bakery in Newry Co Down (Niall Carson/PA)

Shop and deli manager Marie Downey said: “During Covid, in the very strict regulations, the restaurant was closed, but we remained opened so staff were able to continue to work.

“We found that although everybody was socially distanced, they still wanted their buns and cakes and needed their bread.

“Sometimes it was very difficult to realise what the restrictions were, it was very challenging for the business.

“Now we are back to doing all the cakes, all the parties were cancelled, all the weddings were cancelled.

“It was a huge loss to our business but we always knew we would get back and now we are moving forward.”

The latest easing of restrictions was agreed at a meeting of the Executive last week after ministers said Northern Ireland had passed the peak of the Omicron wave.

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Translink has announced a phased return of its pre-pandemic timetables (PA)

Translink has announced a phased return of its pre-pandemic timetables (PA)

PA

Translink has announced a phased return of its pre-pandemic timetables (PA)

Public transport operator Translink has announced the phased return of its pre-pandemic timetables from next Monday.

Chief executive Chris Conway said: “These new timetables will see frequency returning to more normal levels on Metro from next Monday, January 31, and from Monday, February 7, on NI Railways.

“Ulsterbus services will see phased frequency enhancements start to be introduced from Monday February 7 in line with passenger demand.”

Meanwhile, nine further people who had previously tested positive for Covid-19 have died in Northern Ireland, the Department of Health has said.

Another 4,383 confirmed cases of the virus have also been notified in the last 24-hour reporting period.

On Wednesday morning, there were 395 Covid-19 inpatients in hospital, 22 of whom were being treated in ICUs.


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