People will not need face coverings when dancing once NI clubs reopen

Executive clarifies issues around practical application of relaxed Covid-19 rules

Nightclubs in Northern Ireland can reopen from October 31st and social-distancing rules will change from regulations to guidance. Photograph: Getty Images

Nightclubs in Northern Ireland can reopen from October 31st and social-distancing rules will change from regulations to guidance. Photograph: Getty Images

 

People planning to attend nightclubs when they reopen in Northern Ireland at the end of the month will not have to wear face coverings while dancing, ministers at Stormont have agreed.

Ahead of the lifting of hospitality sector restrictions on October 31st, the Executive on Thursday clarified issues around the practical application of the relaxed Covid-19 rules.

Nightclubs can reopen from that date and social-distancing rules, which currently limit capacity in bars and restaurants, will change from regulations to guidance.

People will also be able to move freely around and dance in hospitality premises, including being able to stand at the bar to get a drink rather than ordering from their table.

There had been calls from the sector for clarity regarding the rules and Stormont officials have been engaging with industry representatives over the last number of weeks.

Ministers were on Thursday told that community transmission in Northern Ireland remains “roughly constant at a high level”.

An update from health officials said Covid-19 intensive care numbers remain steady at between 30 to 40 and deaths from the disease remain low.

Ministers were told that modelling suggests that transmission is set to plateau at the current high level for the next six weeks, with the possibility of modest falls or rises in case numbers and hospital pressures.

Four further deaths of patients who had previously tested positive for Covid-19 were reported in the North on Thursday along with 1,051 cases. There were 357 Covid-positive patients in hospital, of whom 35 were in intensive care.

Just under 2.6 million vaccines have been administered in Northern Ireland to date. – PA