From Friday, 23 April many of the previous strict lockdown rules were relaxed as Northern Ireland begins to enact the five-stage recovery plan that they published in May of last year. The recovery plan is considered and updated based on up-to-date scientific evidence, how the health service can cope, and the wider impacts on health, society, and the economy. Let's have a look at the latest updates on restriction easing.
Weddings: marriages and civil partnerships
Good news for those who are tying the knot or who have had to postpone their wedding several times since last year. There's now no limit on the number of people allowed to attend weddings in Northern Ireland but the venue itself has to assess how many people it can safely accommodate. So, you'll have to get in touch with your venue to see your specific number requirements.
All venues must act under Covid-safe rules and face covers have to be worn by guests, excluding those in the marriage party.
Bad news for those wanting to dance the night away, though, since receptions are not permitted until 24 May, but this update is subject to review. Fingers crossed for that time as many couples still wait to wait for their wedding to be as close to pre-pandemic times as possible.
Hairdressers and "non-essential" businesses
From 23 April, close contact services were allowed to open by appointment only. Those include hairdressers, beauticians, make-up studios, nail parlours, tattoo and piercing parlours, tanning shops, massage parlours, electrolysis and other beauty treatments and so on.
Sports and gyms
Non-contact sports have been allowed since Monday, 26 April such as golf and tennis. Dance classes are permitted outdoors. Gyms, leisure centres, and pools won't reopen until Friday, 30 April.
Shopping, pubs, and restaurants
Shops are not allowed to reopen until Friday, 30 April except for outdoor retailers.
The same applies to pubs as they can't reopen until Friday either for outdoor service and indoor service will resume on 24 May, pending review.
Fully vaccinated people can now visit other fully vaccinated households indoors.
Ten people from two households can meet in private gardens and from 30 April, 15 people from three households can meet in private gardens.
Funeral attendance can now increase from 10 to 25.
Lockdown restrictions have been tough for everyone and, hopefully, as we move into the summer more "normal" activities will resume. Stay safe.