England, Wales, and Scotland scrapped all legal obligations to follow and place social distancing measures in indoor venues like supermarkets, cinemas, and shopping centres during the summer. And now Northern Ireland has finally decided to join the troupe as they’ve agreed to get rid of social distancing rules in some indoor spaces from 6 PM on 30 September.
End of social distancing
They announced in a statement published by The Executive Office on 27 September:
The Executive has today considered the existing regulations and has agreed to remove the legal requirement to socially distance in retail and indoor visitor attractions.
They’ve extended the relaxation of measures to indoor seated venues like theatres, concert halls, and cinemas. These places are not required to implement social distancing, but they are being advised to put in place mitigation measures to ensure that they are COVID-safe. They added:
For this sector we advise that additional mitigating measures are utilised, including proof of being fully vaccinated, or proof of a negative lateral flow rapid test, or proof of natural immunity from a positive PCR test undertaken in the previous 30-180 days.
Face maskswill still be required in all indoor settings and officials are requesting all individuals to avoid close contact with others nevertheless.
Hospitality industry omitted
Their decision has come as a huge relief to many business owners who have been struggling to stay afloat because of COVID restrictions—but not all.
The hospitality industry, which includes pubs, bars, restaurants, and cafes, will still have to adhere to the social distancing requirements as of now, but First Minister Paul Givan has said that the issue will be discussed on 7 October.