The Stormont Executive have announced today (20 January) that they are to drop the use of vaccine passports in hospitality venues on Wednesday 26 January.
The Executive met this afternoon to discuss a number of relaxations.
The requirement to remain seated and the limit of six people per table in a hospitality setting is set to be removed from tomorrow, Friday 21 January. The cap on domestic settings will be removed also.
Nightclubs will be permitted to open from noon on Wednesday 26 January, with dancing and indoor standing permitted from the same date.
Covid-19 certification will continue in nightclubs and indoor concert venues, either unseated or partially seated, where there are 500 or more attendees.
Speaking on the Northern Ireland Executive’s announcement, Angela McGowan, CBI Northern Ireland Director stated,
“NI firms will be hopeful that we are finally starting to turn the corner on Covid-19.
“Removing indoor hospitality restrictions will come as a big relief to those companies desperate to start trading their way to recovery after a difficult festive period. The decision to limit the vaccine passport scheme to nightclubs will also be welcomed by NI’s significant food, drink and tourism sectors as we head into Spring.
“Employers have consistently prioritised the safety of staff and customers throughout the pandemic and will continue to ensure we can live safely with the virus through base line measures, like increased hygiene, vaccines and free mass testing. However, companies remain certain that the Executive should lift the ongoing work from home guidance in full.
Adding that, “There’s still a job to be done on repairing confidence and demand in the NI economy. Omicron has pushed back the recovery for some key sectors, so the focus must now be on how we can safely live with the virus, grow the economy and stimulate investment.”
Colin Neil, Hospitality Ulster’s Chief Executive commented that, “This is hopefully the beginning of the end for restrictions on hospitality businesses. The planned reopening of nightclubs is also very welcome, but as they were forced to close on the same Omicron modelling there is no reason why they cannot be opened immediately without Covid passes.”
“There is no doubt that the decisions today by the Executive will provide incredible relief to our industry, but it will come too late for some. The work only begins now in building back and pushing forward to reinstate hospitality as the £2bn sector it once was”