New changes to restrictions in Northern Ireland - COVID certs, hospitality and office working

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Further relaxations of COVID restrictions are due to be introduced from noon today (Wednesday) in the north.

Nightclubs will be permitted to open and dancing and indoor standing at events can resume.

In relation to COVID-status certification, the legal requirement will continue to apply in relation to indoor unseated or partially seated events with 500 people or more.

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For other settings where COVID status certificates are currently required, guidance would strongly encourage their continued use but they will no longer be mandatory.

First Ministers Paul Givan and Michelle O'Neill.First Ministers Paul Givan and Michelle O'Neill.
First Ministers Paul Givan and Michelle O'Neill.

In workplaces the requirement for offices to take reasonable measures for 2m social distancing will be removed.

All remaining COVID measures including the legal requirement to wear face coverings will be reviewed by the Executive on February 10.

The NI Executive announced it was relaxing the measures put in place to manage the COVID-19 Omicron variant on Thursday last.

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As of Friday past the requirement to be seated in cafes, pubs, restaurants and other hospitality venues that serve alcohol and for table service was removed, as was the rule of six.

In domestic settings the cap on the number of households meeting indoors was lifted, while proof of exemption for face coverings was also removed and the reasonable excuse of ‘severe distress’ reintroduced.

The guidance on working from home has also now reverted to ‘working from home where you can’. The minimum self-isolation period for people testing positive for COVID-19 was reduced to five full days, subject to negative lateral flow tests on days five and six of isolation.

The Executive praised the ongoing efforts of the public to limit the spread of the virus. A spokesperson said: “The measures put in place in response to Omicron were a balanced and proportionate intervention based on the best available evidence. However, the improved outlook on hospital pressures allows us to relax some restrictions within the next week.”