By David Young, PA
Stormont ministers have agreed to remove a legal requirement for social distancing in bars and restaurants in Northern Ireland.
The PA news agency understands the one-metre rule will be removed for the hospitality sector on October 31st.
From the same date, nightclubs in the region can also reopen.
Customers will be able to move around all hospitality premises freely again and dancing will be permitted once more.
Nightclubs in NI will be able to open again on Oct 31, @PA understands
Social distancing in hospitality sector will also go on Oct 31.
Dancing can resume 🕺
Executive will ‘ask’ premises to require vaccine proof or negative test or proof of CV infection in last 6 months.
— David Young (@DavidYoungPA) October 7, 2021
The Executive will ask event organisers and venues to voluntarily introduce entry systems requiring patrons to either prove full vaccination or a negative lateral flow test, or evidence of a Covid infection within the previous six months.
The decisions were taken as ministers convened on Thursday to consider the remaining Covid-19 rules in Northern Ireland.
They also agreed a number of other relaxations.
Those include the removal of a cap on the number of people who can gather in indoor domestic settings. The current limit of 15 people from no more than four households will lapse on October 14th.
On the same date, audience members will no longer need to be seated when watching indoor performances.
It is understood the October 31st date for the other relaxations affecting hospitality has been set to give Stormont officials sufficient time to engage with the sector on implementing mitigation measures.
During the meeting, it is understood ministers were told by officials that indoor seated venues that have introduced vaccine/test proof entry requirements in recent weeks have seen a 99 per cent compliance rate among patrons.
Last week the Executive agreed to end social distancing rules in the retail sector, indoor attractions and seated indoor venues.
The decision on the hospitality sector was deferred to this week.