Quarantine rules changed for travellers and competitive sport returns under latest NI lockdown relaxations announced

The lifting of quarantine for those travelling to low-medium risk countries and the return of competitive sports have been announced in the latest lockdown relaxations in Northern Ireland.

The reopening of gyms, arcades and cinemas has also been announced on Thursday.

The Executive agreed there will be no self-isolation requirement for those travelling to Northern Ireland from low to medium risk countries.

Ministers have confirmed that from Friday 10 July the following can re-open:

  • indoor fitness studios and gyms;

  • bingo halls and amusement arcades;

  • outdoor leisure playgrounds, courts and gyms; and

  • cinemas

  • Watch: Movie House Cinemas Boss Michael McAdams reacts to news cinemas can reopen

The Executive also agreed that outdoor horse racing and equestrian competitions can resume from 11 July with only those needed for the event being able to attend.

Outdoor competitive games and sporting events can also start again from Saturday 11 July. This covers both grass roots and professional competitive games and events, but no spectators will be allowed.  

This easement is on the basis that Governing Body protocols are in place, that they are adhered to and that everyone in the sports sector takes responsibility for and complies with hygiene and social distancing directives to ensure a safe return to sport. 

Ministers also ratified earlier commitments in relation to marriages, baptisms and civil partnerships.

The Executive confirmed that places of worship will be enabled to resume indoor weddings and baptisms from Friday 10 July.

Local government offices and other venues can resume marriage and civil partnership services from the same date.

It will be up to venues to determine their precise opening dates for ceremonies and venues will determine if they wish to provide post-ceremony celebrations.

Numbers attending indoor marriage and civil partnership ceremonies and post-ceremony celebrations will be determined by the venue on a risk assessed basis, taking account of the individual circumstances of each and adhering to all relevant public health advice and industry guidance.

Face coverings on public transport will be mandatory from Friday 10 July except where an exemption applies. The current advice is that the use of face coverings is strongly recommended in indoor spaces.

The Executive also agreed that libraries can re-open from 16 July with protocols put in place to ensure social distancing.

The date allowing for the re-opening of indoor sport and leisure facilities, including skating rinks and leisure centres has been brought forward to 17 July. This does not include swimming pools at this stage.

The Executive also agreed to provide the necessary funding assurances to the Department for the Economy and Ulster University for the Graduate Entry Medical School at Magee by allocating ring-fenced funding for the project. This includes £26million capital funding and a recurring resource allocation of £9million.

  • Watch: Tracey Magee reports on the latest developments at Stormont