Up to six able to meet indoors as NI eases coronavirus restrictions

Up to six people will be able to meet indoors while using social distancing as Northern Ireland quickened the pace of lockdown easing on Monday.

The announcement came after one new case of Covid-19 was recorded by Stormont’s Department of Health since Sunday and no more deaths.

From July 6, vulnerable people who are shielding will be able to meet up to six people outside the home, as long as social distancing is strictly observed, the health department said.

People who are shielding and living alone will be able to form a support bubble from July 6 with one other household.

On Monday the devolved powersharing administration met.

Ministers have cited the low rate of infection spread in permitting further relaxation of the restrictions.

They have been under pressure for weeks to enable freer association to help combat loneliness and enable families to reunite after months of isolation.

Earlier this month, they approved the creation of indoor social bubbles involving one person living on their own and another household, without the need for social distancing restrictions.

The suppression of the virus’ spread has prompted Stormont ministers to quicken Northern Ireland’s exit out of lockdown.

Traffic wardens were back on the beat on Monday after the lockdown suspension of on-street parking charges was lifted.

From June 26, caravan parks, campsites and self-contained tourist accommodation will be able to reopen.

A week later, on July 3, hotels, restaurants, cafes, coffee shops, pubs and bars will be able to welcome customers back.

Church services are set to resume on June 29 while a provisional date for hair salons, barbers and nail bars to reopen has been set for July 6.

Guidance advising people in high-risk categories to shield indoors is to be paused at the end of July.

Stormont ministers have also announced plans for childcare services to start to look after more children over the summer.

They are also seeking to maximise the number of children who can return to school on a full-time basis in the autumn by reducing the social distancing measure for pupils from two metres to one.

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