The Executive has met again this afternoon and has agreed to replace our existing Coronavirus regulations with a new set of regulations. The original version had become unwieldy given the increasingly long list of exemptions to restrictions. The approach has been reversed, using a starting point of being generally free to live our lives as normal, but with a smaller number of activities listed that are not permitted.
The Executive has also agreed a number of additional re-openings and relaxations to commence from tomorrow, 24th July-
-swimming pools and wet treatments in spas
- funfairs, both indoor and outdoor
-outdoor spectators at sports matches dependent on the venue permitting appropriate social distancing
-number who can meet indoors increased to 10, and the restriction on overnight stays removed.
An indicative date has also been agreed for pubs/bars which do not serve food to open from 10th August.
To address perceived contradictions in messaging on international travel, the guidance on nidirect will be updated to remove reference to travel overseas having to be essential travel.
The Executive also discussed the use of face coverings in indoor settings. The advice Ministers have received from our senior scientific and medical advisers is that it will be important to see the numbers wearing face coverings increase significantly in order to help limit the spread of the virus, particularly ahead of the autumn and winter period.
Ministers would prefer to work in partnership with the community, and in an ideal world, not have to make face coverings compulsory.
So we have agreed today that the Health Minister can legislate to take the power to make face coverings mandatory, but this will not be implemented immediately.
A high profile campaign will promote the benefits of face coverings and advocate their use in a range of indoor settings.
The Executive’s second meeting in August will take place on the 20th and at that stage Ministers will consider the impact that the public awareness campaign has had on the numbers wearing face coverings.
Unless the numbers wearing face coverings will have increased significantly and become common place, the Executive will be forced to utilise the legislative power and make wearing them mandatory at this stage.