Northern Ireland news

Non-essential retail and part of hospitality industry can reopen on Friday December 11

Businesses such as restaurants, cafés and hotels can resume trading then but must be closed at 11pm each day 
Michael McHugh and David Young, Press Association

Non-essential retailers can reopen on Friday Decmeber 11 in Northern Ireland, ministers have said.

The two-week circuit-breaker ends on the same date.

Businesses such as restaurants, cafés and hotels can also resume trading then but must be closed at 11pm each day.

Pubs that do not serve food will have to remain closed.

Guidance about social distancing within cafés and restaurants is to be set at two metres, the Stormont executive decided.

First Minister Arlene Foster said: "More good news to come after yesterday's vaccine developments.

"Common commitment across the executive to make Christmas time as good as possible as we continue the fight against Covid."

She said official guidance would be issued around people coming into businesses on subjects like queuing.

"The guidance will say two metres and it is important that people try and abide by that guidance as well as taking other mitigating actions," she added.

Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill gave more details for plans during the five days of Christmas, when restrictions on socialising will be relaxed.

She said: "Three households can come together, one of those households can bring their bubble."

She urged people to have a "safe and careful" Christmas.

Arlene Foster said: "Churches will reopen again at a very special time of year for those people of faith.

"Weddings and funerals go back to a position where it is risk assessed as to how many people you have at a wedding or, sadly, at a funeral."

She said sporting events can proceed with a maximum of 500 spectators, with some exclusions surrounding schools.

Michelle O'Neill said care homes were her number one priority, but the vaccine had to lend itself to going into a care setting and Pfizer's did not.

She added: "We expect to have a second vaccine approved, hopefully before the end of they year.

"That is the one that can be deployed into care homes straight away, so it is a matter of weeks."

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Northern Ireland news