Northern Ireland news

Indoor weddings, civil partnerships and baptisms can take place from July 10

Indoor weddings may be held in Northern Ireland from July 10 2020 
Rebecca Black and Michael McHugh, Press Association

Weddings, civil partnerships and baptisms can be celebrated indoors from July 10, the Executive has confirmed.

The ceremonies have been put on hold since the lockdown to combat the spread of disease was introduced in March.

The Executive said it will be up to hotels and private venues to determine their precise opening dates for ceremonies and whether they wish to provide post-ceremony celebrations.

"Numbers attending indoor marriage and civil partnership ceremonies and post-ceremony celebrations will be determined by the venue on a risk assessed basis, taking account of the individual circumstances of each and adhering to all relevant public health advice and industry guidance," the Executive said.

Hairdressers and tattoo parlours were among businesses which reopened today after the rate of coronavirus infection diminished.

No new deaths with Covid-19 have been recorded since Friday. Nine positive tests were reported over the weekend. Read more

First Minister Arlene Foster held a Belfast city centre press conference today without deputy first minister Michelle O'Neill following a dispute over the Sinn Féin vice-president's attendance at republican Bobby Storey's funeral.

Hundreds of people lined the route on June 30 and police are investigating whether any breaches of social distancing happened.

Mrs Foster said: "I am delighted to say that we are able to announce in relation to weddings and baptisms that they can now go ahead from the 10th of July, in a socially distanced way but inside, taking account of the space available.

"No longer will they be limited in numbers, it depends on the space in the church or indeed in the venue as well."

Northern Ireland Hotels Federation CEO Janice Gault said that last year hotels hosted 7,255 weddings and civil partnerships  with an average value in excess of £30,000 per event.

"Wedding business is estimated to be worth in the region of £250m to the local economy with events spread across hotels, dedicated wedding venues and other hospitality businesses. The hotel sector is therefore looking forward to being able to say 'I do!' to the many couples who wish to get married, and to welcoming back guests for other events in the coming months" she added.

An eager Belfast barber wasted no time reopening today, throwing open his doors just a minute after midnight.

Staff at Cambridge Barbershop on the Lisburn Road were wearing personal protective equipment and visors while chairs were separated to just below two metres apart.

Sean Lawlor said: "There were one or two regulars in and I didn't recognise them with the long hair and beards but once the transformation came about then I knew who it was."

The barber resumed service at 9am as queues formed along the road.

Pensioner Jim Murphy said his hair had grown to the longest he had ever seen it.

Emerging afterwards with a broad smile he said: "I feel a lot better."

Beauty salons and tattooists were also able to open following the latest relaxation of coronavirus regulations.

Floral designs and characters were among the first tattoos inked in Belfast.

In the city centre, Belfast City Skinworks tattoo and piercing studio opened for appointments only. Read more

Donal Kelly said: "Some of the artists are drawing up Covid related images but because we are dealing with clients who had been booked in back in March before the pandemic we haven't got to that yet.

"But watch this space I am sure there will be a few Covid survivor tattoos to come."

On Friday July 3 pubs which served food were able to reopen in Northern Ireland along with hotels.

Table service was required. Beer taps were flowing and cash registers ringing as customers returned to cafes, restaurants and pubs.

From today, restrictions on people visiting loved ones in hospital and care homes will be eased.

Decisions on allowing visitors will now be made on a day-to-day basis, by the nurse in charge in hospitals, or by the manager in care homes, and will depend on the ability to ensure social distancing and safety of both patients/residents and the visitors.

All visitors to hospitals and care homes are now also required to wear a face covering, the department of health said.

 

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