Northern Ireland news

Belfast's Christmas market to open today amid strict Covid regulations

Kayleigh Ward and Matthew Green on their chocolate stall at the Christmas Market in the grounds of Belfast City Hall. Picture by Mal McCann

BELFAST'S Christmas market will open today for the first time since 2019.

The annual market, featuring gift stalls, a helter-skelter, two beer tents and an outdoor food court, will open at midday, subject to Covid restrictions.

The market, which has been running in the grounds of Belfast City Hall for the last 17 years, could not operate last year due to the pandemic.

This year's event, which promises to have more stalls owned and run by Northern Ireland businesses, will run until December 23.

Market organisers said customers will have to adhere to strict Covid regulations from today.

Anyone wishing to attend the market may have to show a Covid passport; proof of vaccination; proof of a negative Covid test taken in the previous 48 hours or proof of a positive PCR test taken in the previous 30 to 180 days.

A spokeswoman for Belfast City Council said the decision to introduce strict Covid protocols came after the Executive announced this week that Covid passports would be introduced from November 29.

"The safety of our staff and customers is of paramount importance," she said.

"We are recommending mask wearing for all those in attendance and will be providing hand sanitising stations throughout the market.

"We are also encouraging payment using card rather than cash where possible.

"As in previous years, during particularly busy periods a queuing system may be put in place to manage capacity and provide for the safe flow of visitors.

"As customers will be aware, the operating environment is subject to change.

"With this in mind we will continue to monitor the situation and keep you updated."

Customers wishing to visit the market are advised to follow Belfast City Council's social media accounts to get the most up-to-date information.

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