Covid-19: Delta variant accounts for 75% of cases in North

Ministers agree to relax restrictions in a number of mainly outdoor-based areas

A total of 21 patients with Covid-19 are receiving hospital treatment in Northern Ireland, with two in intensive care. Photograph: iStock

A total of 21 patients with Covid-19 are receiving hospital treatment in Northern Ireland, with two in intensive care. Photograph: iStock

 

The Delta variant now accounts for 75 per cent of Covid-19 cases in Northern Ireland.

In a statement released after the North’s Executive met on Thursday, the Executive Office said it had received an update on the progression of the pandemic and had agreed to monitor the situation closely.

Ministers said that after careful consideration they had agreed to relax the Covid-19 rules in force in a number of mainly outdoor-based areas, where the risk of infection is lower.

A cap on outdoor gatherings of 500 will be removed from Friday, although events will require a risk assessment.

From July 5th, live music performances will be permitted to resume, with mitigations in place for indoor venues.

The number of households permitted to meet outdoors at private dwellings will increase from three to five, with the maximum number of people remaining at 15, and overnight residential stays for children can also resume.

A review of the current position in the North’s pathway out of restrictions framework is currently underway, with ministers due to consider the sequencing of further relaxations and the plan for the summer at next week’s Executive meeting.

Positive decision

The Minister for Communities Deirdre Hargey said the decision to restart live music was a positive decision for those working in music and the arts.

“The hospitality and arts sectors have been severely impacted by the effects of this pandemic and these relaxations in the regulations will ease some of that burden in a measured, safe and sustainable way,” she said.

Joel Neill of Hospitality Ulster said it was “another step towards normality.”

“Music is a highly valuable offering within the hospitality industry, and as we enter into the summer months, customers will be looking for that overall entertainment experience,” he said.

The reproduction number of the virus has been estimated as above one, within a range of between 1.2 and 1.6.

There were 375 confirmed new cases of Covid-19 reported in Northern Ireland on Wednesday, the highest daily total since February. That figure remained over 300 on Thursday.

A total of 21 patients with Covid-19 are receiving hospital treatment in the North, with two in intensive care.