October 31, 2020

Coronavirus: NI swimming pools can reopen from Friday

Man swimming in a pool Image copyright Reuters

Swimming pools, spas and community centres in Northern Ireland can reopen from Friday after ministers agreed further moves to ease lockdown.

The Stormont Executive announced a raft of changes to Covid-19 restrictions to come into effect on the same date.

From 1 August, Stormont ministers have the power to make the wearing of face coverings mandatory in shops.

However, they will wait until 20 August before deciding whether or not to impose the move.

In the period before ministers make their decision, the executive will run a public information campaign to strongly encourage the use of masks.

But if by 20 August the uptake is low then ministers will make face coverings mandatory in shops.

Such coverings are already mandatory in shops in Scotland and will become compulsory in England from Friday.

Other decisions taken by the executive on Thursday include the easing of restrictions on outdoor sporting events and on social gatherings in private homes.

From Friday 24 July the following changes will take effect:

  • Spectators will be allowed to attend outdoor sporting venues “where the operator can control access and ensure adherence to social distancing”
  • The number of people from different households permitted to gather in a private home rises to 10 and can consist of people from up to four different households
  • The restriction on people staying overnight in a home other than their own will end
  • Swimming pools in leisure centres, hotels and private facilities can reopen
  • Saunas, steam rooms, hydro-therapy pools, cold and ice rooms, monsoon showers and sanariums are among spa facilities permitted to reopen
  • Community centres can reopen
  • Bowling alleys can resume operation
  • Funfairs can also resume operating from Friday, whether they are indoors or outdoors.

Earlier on Thursday the Department of Health revealed a coronavirus contact tracing app for Northern Ireland will be launched next week