Shops, restaurants, cafes, pubs and gyms prepare to reopen
Staff at businesses across the north west are this week preparing their stores and premises for reopening this Friday.
The most significant tranche of lockdown relaxation so far in 2021 will see all non-essential retail shops and businesses reopening.
Gyms and leisure centres will also welcome back people for the first time since they were closed after Christmas.
Meanwhile pubs, restaurants, cafes and diners with outside space have been busy preparing for patrons.
The easing of restrictions later this week follows the reopening of hairdressers, barbers and outdoor visitor attractions last week.
The NI Executive has confirmed that from this Friday, April 30 there will be an increase the numbers permitted to gather in gardens at homes of up to 15 people from no more than three households.
People from the same household will also be allowed to book and stay overnight in self-contained tourist accommodation.
In terms of pubs, cafes, restaurants and diners, they will remain outdoor only with a maximum of six people from two households per table and contact details recorded.
The curfew on food takeaways and off licences operating times will also be scrapped.
The moves come as the vaccine roll out continues to gather pace with those aged 35 and over now able to book in the north.
Health Minister Robin Swann said: “This week we will see further easing of restrictions with the re-opening of non-essential retail, gyms, leisure facilities and some tourist accommodation. These easements have only been possible because of the success of the vaccination programme, coupled with the actions of the general public.
“Therefore I would appeal to everyone who is eligible for vaccination to get an appointment booked. I know there are some younger people that think they don’t need the vaccine but we have seen what this virus can do. So please protect yourself and get the vaccine.”