From April 30, outdoor areas at hospitality venues will be permitted to reopen in Northern Ireland.
The Northern Ireland Executive has confirmed that outdoor hospitality, such as pub gardens, hotel terraces and outdoor restaurant spaces, will be finally able to trade again from next week, for the first time since before Christmas.
There will be no curfew for venues, having previously been subject to a forced 11pm closure.
Social contact rules will remain in place, with customers able to gather in groups of six from no more than two households.
The news has been welcomed by trade body Hospitality Ulster. Initially, proposed reopening dates leaked to the press suggested that outdoor hospitality wouldn’t be able to reopen until May 10, which caused uproar amongst businesses.
Colin Neill, chief executive, Hospitality Ulster said: “Hope is now on the horizon and for those who have been able to survive this devastating period it is now time for them to prepare their businesses for the long awaited resumption of trading. It is now in everyone’s interest that we make sure that all precautions are taken to get us through these next few weeks safely.
“Our industry has spent millions of pounds on Covid secure measures and will reopen in a responsibly way, but any additional restrictions must allow businesses to operate on a sustainable footing to secure the future of the jobs depending on them.”