First relaxations come into effect across NW as all school pupils return

The first significant steps towards easing the tough COVID restrictions imposed north and south at the start of 2021 have come into effect.

Monday, 12th April 2021, 8:57 am

All schoolchildren returned to their schools across Ireland today, some of them for the first time since before the Christmas 2020 break.

A raft of other measures including relaxation of travel limits and outdoor activities have also come into force from yesterday, with more measures planned over the coming weeks.

In the north, the latest steps have been described as “good news for our society” by the First Minister and deputy first Minister, ahead of a further review on Thursday of this week.

Arlene Foster, Michelle O'Neill and Micheal Martin.

Welcoming the milestone of more than one million vaccines administered across the region, Arlene Foster and Michelle O’Neill said this is a significant day that gives us all hope for the future.

Measures now in effect in the north mean: Up to 10 people from two households can meet outdoors in a private garden; Up to 15 people (including coaches) can take part in structured outdoor sports training, through clubs or individuals; The number permitted to attend marriages, civil partnerships and funerals, will be informed by a risk assessment for the venue; Contactless ‘click and collect’ is permitted for all retail; Outdoor retail is permitted to reopen; Potential marriage and civil partnership customers may view the facilities of venues used for marriages and civil partnerships, such as hotels and other venues, restricted to a maximum of four customers per visit. The ‘stay at home’ provision has been removed from legislation. A ‘stay local’ and ‘work from home’ message is in place instead.

Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said: “This is a hugely significant day. Passing the landmark of one million vaccines is incredibly encouraging. The success of our vaccination programme and the reduction in new positive cases, particularly among vaccinated groups, gives us real hope that we are slowly making our way out of this pandemic and moving towards better times for us all.”

In the south of Ireland, as of today if you have received the second dose of the vaccine more than 2 weeks ago, you can now meet with other fully vaccinated people from another house indoors without wearing masks or staying 2 metres apart.

For everyone, the 5km travel restriction has ended and people living in Donegal can now travel anywhere within the county or 20 miles across county lines if they live near a county border.

People can also meet one other household outside but not in gardens; All residential construction can restart as well as early-learning and childcare projects.

From April 26 in south, outdoor sports facilities can reopen such as pitches, golf courses and tennis courts, while outdoor visitor attractions like zoos, open pet farms, heritage sites can reopen.