// Non-essential retail shops in Northern Ireland finally able to exit lockdown and reopen today
// They have been in lockdown for four months
Non-essential retailers in Northern Ireland have reopened their doors today in the latest stage of relaxations of Covid-19 restrictions in the country.
Under Stormont’s phased reopening plan, outdoor hospitality and all non-essential retail will resume today after four months of closure.
The move means non-essential retail in all of the UK has now exited lockdown, after Scotland reopened earlier this week and England and Wales reopened on April 12.
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As with the other home countries, licensed and unlicensed premises in Northern Ireland can serve customers in outdoor settings in groups of six from no more than two householders.
It means publicans and restauranteurs who have outdoor space can resume operating.
Curfews on takeaways and off-licences across Northern Ireland have also been removed, and gyms and swimming pools can reopen for individual activities.
Close contact businesses on the high street, like hairdressers and salons, were allowed to reopen last week.
While the latest easing of restrictions in Northern Ireland has been widely welcomed, a number of bars have said they would not be able to reopen after being told their outdoor areas do not conform to requirements.
Many bar owners say their outdoor areas, now judged to be too enclosed, have not changed from what was permitted to open following the easing of the first lockdown last year.
Outdoor premises should not be more than 50 per cent enclosed, according to health guidance.
More restrictions are set to be lifted on May 24, although these are subject to review.
with PA Wires