Some positive announcements came from the statement for the reopening on 24th May, which will be ratified on 20th May. We are pleased to hear that the Executive are committed to moving ahead with the reopening date. However, we are hugely disappointed in the approach to easing travel restrictions within the CTA.
We are working DoH, Department for the Economy and Executive Office to get a clear approach and timeframe to the full reopening our tourism sector, including international travel, and we are urging the NI Executive to review its latest guidance as a critical first step in safely welcoming visitors back to Northern Ireland.
The statement says:
In relation to travel within the CTA, what the new guidance means is:
- Travel is now permitted within the CTA for any reason, however the self-isolation requirement for people travelling to NI and staying longer than 24 hours is still in place.
- You are exempted from the self-isolation requirement if you are visiting family and friends. We think this is either people coming to NI and for people in NI returning from visiting family and friends
- You are also exempt from self-isolation if you have already gone through mandatory managed quarantine at your first port of entry to the CTA.
- Although you will not need to self-isolate in the circumstances above, testing has been now introduced. You are advised to have a pre-departure test, and then a test on day 2 and day 8 after your arrival (or return) to NI. These are the self-administered Lateral Flow tests.
- The last paragraph above contradicts all of the above, but this could be only in relation to international travel
- There has been no announcement with regard to the introduction of Green countries and no date when this will be expected.
- It does not give a date when the CTA travel advice will be reviewed.
- This is guidance only and is not included in legislation and there is no indication how or if this will be policed.
On a more positive note we are delighted that restrictions have eased for the hospitality, events and indoor attractions. These are summarised below;
- we have an indicative date of 21st June for the restart of conferences and exhibitions. Gala dinners and other functions are permitted from 24th May subject to risk assessment on numbers and conference facilities are able to open from 24th May for use for activities other than conferences and exhibitions.
- The 6 people from two households has been amended to 6 people (from any number of households) for indoor hospitality. If only one household the maximum is 10
- For the remainder of tourist accommodation - shared facilities are able to open and meeting rooms can reopen (capacity based on risk assessment)
- Receptions for weddings/funerals are able to go ahead – no restrictions on top table, maximum of 10 at tables (no household restriction), one dance for the couple and background music only
- Indoor attractions – contact details must be taken and retained but capacity based on risk assessment
- Indoor gatherings (not domestic) – numbers permitted based on risk assessment, but where the gathering is for more than 15 people it must be an organised gathering with a risk assessment.
- Outdoor Gatherings – Maximum of 500 or as per risk assessment (whichever is the lower). Any gathering of over 30 people outdoors must be an organised gathering and will require a risk assessment.
- You are able to hug your loved ones but not in hospitality or retail environments.
- The ‘Stay Local’ message will be removed and the focus will be on behaviour of people.
Please note the above are summaries and can be reviewed in full here.