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Limit of 500 people for outdoor events lifted

'This increase in the Delta variant and the case numbers associated with it are very worrying and we will continue to monitor the situation closely'

There will no further restrictions in numbers attending outdoor events from tomorrow (Friday).

The Executive has confirmed that there 500 limit was being axed as the latest in its easing of restrictions.

The Executive received an update today on the progression of the Covid-19 epidemic and, in particular the continued advancement of the Delta variant which now accounts for 75% of the cases here.

A spokesperson said: “This increase in the Delta variant and the case numbers associated with it are very worrying and we will continue to monitor the situation closely. We will have a particular focus on the hospitalisations resulting from the increase in cases and the potential pressure on our health service.

“After very careful consideration we have decided to move forward on a select number of areas that focus largely on relaxations in the outdoors environment, which we know to be associated with lower risk.

“The Executive has decided that from 2 July, the cap on outdoor gatherings will be removed and the maximum number permitted will be determined by the risk assessment carried out for the venue.

“From 5 July all gatherings, indoors and outdoors (not including domestic settings) will now only be subject to a risk assessment if they have more than 15 participants for indoors, or more than 30 participants for outdoors.

“Live music will be permitted at licensed and unlicensed hospitality businesses that sell or provide food and/or drink for consumption on the premises. This will be at ambient level only to allow conversation at normal levels and with suitable mitigations in place, such as screens.

“Music will be permitted at outdoor events with no restriction on volume.

“The number of households permitted to meet outdoors at private dwellings will be increased from three to five, with the maximum number of people remaining at 15, including children.

“The Executive has also approved a restart of overnight residential stays for children and young people across all sectors.

“We are carrying out a review of the current position on our Pathway out of Restrictions and at next week’s Executive meeting we will consider the sequencing of further relaxations and the process by which we hope to move forward over the summer, in line with the most up-to-date data.

“We continue to ask that everyone comes forward to receive their vaccine as soon as possible and please keep both appointments. We urge employers to facilitate workers getting their vaccines.”

Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey welcomed today’s decision to relax restrictions on live music.

Following a visit to The Limelight in Belfast, Minister Hargey said:  “I have been advocating for a relaxation of these restrictions as soon as is safely possible, so I welcome this positive announcement on my proposals in relation to live music.

“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.

“The decisions today is positive for those working in music and the arts.”

Meanwhile, Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon has welcomed the news from the European Commission that insurance green cards are no longer needed for Northern Ireland drivers travelling to the Republic and the rest of the European Union.

Minister Mallon said: “I am delighted that as part of a package of measures announced by the European Commission related to the implementation of the Ireland Protocol insurance green cards will no longer be required for drivers from Northern Ireland travelling to the South or beyond into other parts of the European Union.

“This announcement will be welcomed by drivers and the haulage industry as drivers will no longer have to apply for a green card from their insurer. This will make it easier for those travelling and working across this islands and the European Union.

“This is another example of the progress we can make when all of our energies are focused on finding real-life solutions to real-life issues. We all need to continue to focus our efforts on serving the public through this time of significant challenge and change.”

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