A return to live music in hospitality venues has been delayed by two weeks as concern grows over the emergence of the Delta variant in the North.
Mobile testing units have been set up in Omagh after it emerged on Thursday there may be a number of cases of the Covid 19 variant in the area.
Live music was due to return on 21 June alongside a number of other relaxation of Covid 19 restrictions, but the Executive confirmed in a statement that that date would now be pushed back to 5 July.
“The Executive received an update today on the progression of the Covid-19 epidemic and, in particular, the continued advancement of the Delta variant which has become more prevalent in the last seven days,” the statement said
“This increase in the Delta variant, and the speed at which it is spreading across the community is very worrying.”
“Evidence from other jurisdictions, where the variant is already dominant also gives us cause for significant concern.”
“In light of this, the clear advice from our medical and scientific experts is to delay any further relaxations to allow further monitoring of the situation.”
“We are therefore regrettably not in a position to ratify the indicative dates provided for future relaxations. We will continue to monitor the situation very closely and look at all emerging data. The Executive has agreed a new indicative date of 5 July, to be reviewed on 1 July.”
A last-minute deal between Sinn Fein and the DUP on Irish language legislation allowed First Minister and Deputy First Minister nominations to take place and for the Executive to meet to discuss whether to ratify the restrictions or not. That was before DUP infighting over that agreement led to the departure of Edwin Poots as leader of the party.
“We know this will be very disappointing for all those impacted, particularly across the arts and culture sectors. We did not take this decision lightly and are acting collectively in the best interests of our population. This is similar to decisions that have been taken in England and Scotland to delay further relaxations to restrictions given concerns around the Delta variant,” the Executive statement continued.
“We ask that everyone comes forward to receive their vaccine as soon as possible and please keep both appointments. We also urge employers to facilitate workers getting their vaccines. If we all work together, we will get to a point where we can continue on our pathway out of restrictions.”