Covid: Theatres to reopen and up to 10 can meet indoors as Northern Ireland relaxes restrictions

The Northern Ireland Executive have agreed to allow theatres and concert venues to reopen on Tuesday from 6pm as part of the latest easing of Covid-19 restrictions. The number of people allowed to gather indoors in domestic settings has been increased from six to 10 people from no more than three households. MOT tests will return to normal though the customer and examiner will be limited to sitting in the vehicle together for five minutes with face coverings.

Face coverings being worn in places of worship will be dictated by guidance rather than regulations. The only time face coverings are legally required in places of worship is when entering and exiting the building.

Live music will be permitted with no volume restrictions at indoor and outdoor venues. Tickets must be sold for the event in advance.

Spectators must remain seated at indoor venues and dancing is not permitted. Social distancing of one metre is required.

The relaxations were agreed at a virtual meeting of the executive on Monday afternoon.

Two further relaxations of Covid-19 rules were agreed by ministers last week and those came into effect on Monday.

A cap limiting the number of households allowed to participate in 15-person outdoor domestic gatherings has been removed and close contact services, such as hairdressers, are now able to accept walk-in customers.

Moves considered moderate and higher risk were delayed last week pending an update from health officials on the latest wave of Covid-19.

Ministers were due to be presented with more data on the link between positive cases and hospital admissions before reconvening to reconsider those decisions.

Ministers will convene again on Thursday to consider the higher risk relaxations.

The resumption of conferences and exhibitions will also be considered on Thursday, as will a proposal to end social distancing requirements for outdoor activities and reduce the distance to one metre for indoor settings.

The relaxations come as the Department of Health revealed a further 639 cases of Covid-19 have been reported in Northern Ireland in the last 24 hours.

On Monday morning there were 208 Covid-19 positive patients in hospital with 25 in intensive care. There have been no further deaths.

2,208,466 vaccines have been administered in Northern Ireland.