// Some high street businesses such as hairdressers & salons reopen in Northern Ireland today
// Other restrictions on the high street to be lifted next week include non-essential retailers & outdoor hospitality
// First Minister Arlene Foster says Northern Ireland’s exit from lockdown will move faster if possible
Northern Ireland has taken another step towards exiting lockdown with the further easing of restrictions today.
While non-essential retail shops are not yet allowed to reopen – they will have to wait until April 30 – some high street businesses such as outdoor visitor attractions and close contact services, like hairdressers and salons, have reopened today.
It comes a day after First Minister Arlene Foster said Northern Ireland’s exit from lockdown could move faster if possible.
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She said the Executive would “keep looking to see if we can move faster”.
Other restrictions on the high street to be lifted next week include pubs and restaurants being able to serve customers in outdoors settings, in groups of six, from no more than two households.
Gyms can also reopen from April 30, and takeaways and off-licences will also have curfews lifted.
More restrictions are set to be lifted on May 24, although these are subject to review.
From that date, pubs and restaurants can operate indoors, people will be allowed to gather in homes and indoor attractions can reopen.
“We have to see what the impact is of relaxations and then make an assessment as to whether we can move dates forward,” Foster said.
Today’s reopening of scores of close-contact services after a four-month lockdown was hailed as a “good day” by Northern Ireland’s economy minister Diane Dodds.
“It’s the start of a road back to rebuilding and recovering our economy and a bit of normality,” she said.
“It has been an absolutely torrid year, particularly for our retail, for these close-contact services. The cycle of lockdowns has been really, really devastating.
“We want to see the economy reopen safely, we want to see it reopen sustainably, and we want to move forward.
“Next week is another momentous week, and we will reopen all of retail, reopen hospitality outdoors and reopen self-contained accommodation. It’s a really big step forward.”
with PA Wires