Self-isolating for fully jabbed close contacts scrapped; ban on outdoor raves, house parties lifted in Northern Ireland

The Executive Office has said that from Monday, August 16, close contacts will no longer need to self-isolate if they are fully vaccinated as part of a raft of new easements announced today.

Thursday, 12th August 2021, 6:10 pm

This policy change applies to close contacts only, and anyone who has symptoms, whether vaccinated or not, should immediately book a PCR test, and if positive should self-isolate for 10 days.

People are fully vaccinated if it is more than 14 days since they received the second dose of an approved Covid-19 vaccine.

A ban on outdoor house parties and ‘raves’ will be lifted from Monday and the restrictions on the number of people who can gather outdoors at people’s homes removed.

Michelle O'Neill and Paul Givan.

The requirement to maintain social distancing on public transport at all times will also be lifted, to allow for a return to higher capacity on transport links.

The requirement for school bubbles will be removed for the beginning of the school year with mitigating measures remaining in place.

The requirement to wear a face covering in school however will remain in place for the first six weeks of the new term and remain under review. However, for subjects where social distancing is possible, such as drama in a large hall, face coverings are no longer required. Further guidance will be issued to schools by the Department of Education.

There will also be a full return to extra-curricular and support activities as well as youth services.

In terms of hospitality the limit of numbers permitted at tables will be removed. This will also apply to wedding receptions.

Conference centres can reopen allowing conferences and exhibitions to resume.

For Further Education Colleges and universities for the new academic year there will be a full return to face-to-face on-site delivery in FE Colleges, Universities and Non-Statutory Contractors including the removal of social distancing restrictions in classrooms.

The Executive Office re-emphasized the importance of people getting fully vaccinated against Coronavirus and continuing to follow the public health advice.

“A 1% increase in vaccine uptake will reduce the number of cases and hospital admissions by around 10%. This would have a significant impact in terms of saving lives, keeping our people well and reducing the pressure on our health service.

“If we can get from 85% adults vaccinated to 90%, then the number of cases and hospital admissions would be reduced by around half.

“Young people aged 5 to 17 who are not fully vaccinated and are identified as a close contact should self-isolate and book a PCR test. If the PCR test is positive they should isolate for ten days. If the PCR test result is negative they can end their self-isolation.

“Should they develop symptoms after the negative PCR test they should self-isolate and take another PCR test. If the PCR test is positive, they must complete a full 10 days of self-isolation. If the PCR test is negative, they can stop isolating.

“Children under the age of 5 who are close contacts will be encouraged but not required to take a PCR test. They will not be expected to self-isolate, unless a PCR test comes back positive or they develop symptoms.

“Guidance will be developed regarding close contacts in school settings, to ensure children in the same year groups are treated the same.”