Northern Ireland news

Shops, gyms and outdoor hospitality areas to reopen from tomorrow

Non-essential shops will be allowed to reopen from tomorrow. Picture by Mal McCann

SHOPS, gyms and outdoor hospitality areas are reopening across Northern Ireland from Friday in the most significant easing of lockdown restrictions in months.

Non-essential retailers including clothing and bookshops can open their doors again following a four-month closure.

Outdoor areas at hospitality venues can also reopen - including at cafes, restaurants, bars, pubs, and social clubs.

Read More: Call for pragmatism as growing number of hospitality venues cancel reopening plans

Takeaways will no longer need to close by 11pm and off-licences will also be allowed to stay open past 8pm.

People can use the gym and swimming pools for individual exercise, although group classes are not permitted until May 24 at the earliest.

More people are also allowed to gather outside.

Up to 15 people from three households can meet in a private garden.

People will also be allowed to return to their static caravans and holiday homes in the north.

But hotels and B&Bs are not due to reopen until late next month.

The British Heart Foundation Northern Ireland said it is looking forward to welcoming people back to its seven shops across the north and to accept donations once again for the first time since Christmas.

Head of BHF Northern Ireland Fearghal McKinney said the last 12 months had been the most difficult in the charity's 60-year history.

"Our shops play a huge role in funding vital research into heart and circulatory diseases and run purely on the support of the public," he said.

"Every item donated and sold can help us power the £1.8m of research we fund at Queen’s University, Belfast. We can’t wait to get back up and running again.”

Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council has agreed to relax restrictions on Sunday trading hours within the borough for the first two weeks in May in a bid to help retailers.

Meanwhile, Translink has announced a full resumption of its Belfast to Dublin Enterprise service from Tuesday, May 4.

There will now be eight services in each direction Monday to Saturday, with the reinstatement of the 6.50am and 8.05pm from Belfast and the 7.35am and 8.50pm from Dublin. The normal Sunday timetable of five trains in each direction remains in place.

There is no catering on board until further notice, due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access

Northern Ireland news