THE NORTHERN Ireland Executive is considering fast-tracking the reopening of pubs as part of plans to expediate the return of the hospitality sector as a whole, the First Minister has confirmed.
It comes after the successful suppression of Covid-19 in Northern Ireland, with no further deaths reported in the past 24 hours.
With no coronavirus deaths recorded in five of the last seven days, Arlene Foster has confirmed that Northern Ireland’s plans are being sped up with the reopenng of hotels set to be brought forward from July 20.
Stormont ministers are now considered a proposal tabled by Economy Minister Diane Dodds that would hotels, bars, cafes and restaurants resume trading on July 3.
Previously, only hotels had been handed an indicative opening date with other areas of the hospitality sector left in the dark over when they could reopen.
The proposals put forward by Mrs Dodds look set to change that and the indications are that Arlene Foster could be in favour of the ideas presented.
Mrs Foster said: “I think it’s fair to say that we will be bringing forward the date, we gave an indicative date of the 20th of July.
“Thankfully, the spread of the disease has continued to fall, and we’re very pleased about that, and also looking at the number of hospital admissions and the number of ICU admissions. Therefore, we are able to move in a flexible way.”
She told BBC Radio Ulster: “When we launched our plan for moving out of lockdown we specifically did not put dates to the various stages and the reason for that is we wanted to be flexible and move as the virus moves and this has allowed us to deliver things in a proactive way and on an ongoing basis as well.”
The move comes just days after a change in lockdown rules saw grandparents and grandchildren across Northern Ireland reunited under the new “social bubble” rules, bringing an end to three months of being apart.
Passenger flights have also resumed at Belfast International Airport, while the housing market also restarted, with estate agents open and able to show properties to prospective buyers again.