Northern Ireland’s leaders have urged caution as the latest relaxations to the coronavirus regulations come into effect.
From Thursday, up to 30 people will be permitted in private dwellings and the requirement for audience members to be seated when watching performances in indoor venues will be removed.
However large house parties and raves will still not be permitted.
Further relaxations, including restrictions on dancing indoors and the reopening of nightclubs, will apply from October 31.
First Minister Paul Givan and deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill have urged people to continue to follow public health guidance.
“Over the next fortnight, many of the last restrictions on how we socialise and engage together will be lifted,” Mr Givan said.
“This is an important point to reach, and it has taken a determined and combined effort across society to get us here. I’m proud of the powerful, positive community spirit and the shared determination to keep everyone as safe as possible.
“While it is right that we take heart from the relaxations now allowed, we must also keep doing our bit to protect and drive on progress. This is about personal responsibility and whether you are a customer, worker, student or business owner, keep following the remaining rules when you are out and about.”
Ms O’Neill added: “With the support of the public, we have come a long way in our journey out of restrictions and we can all be encouraged by the cautious progress we have been able to make.
“However, we need to remember that coronavirus still poses a threat to lives, livelihoods and our health service, which is facing in to a very challenging autumn and winter period.
“We have a collective responsibility to keep making the kind of choices that will keep our community as safe as possible.
“I encourage everyone to do what you can to protect yourself and others; open windows and doors; wear a face covering. And the evidence speaks for itself – the single most important thing you can do is to get the vaccine if you have not already done so.”
A further death of a patient who had previously tested positive for Covid-19 and another 1,471 cases of the virus were reported in Northern Ireland on Wednesday.
On Wednesday morning there were 374 Covid-positive patients in hospital, of whom 33 were in intensive care.
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