Coronavirus NI: What are Northern Ireland's Covid restrictions - from social distancing to international travel

From Monday, October 4, 2021 travel restrictions will ease across Northern Ireland and the UK with the end of the traffic light system.

Thursday, 30th September 2021, 5:38 pm
Updated Monday, 4th October 2021, 9:51 am

With restrictions on travelling abroad and social distancing changing, we've put together an update on the current Covid restrictions in Northern Ireland.

Face masks

Face masks are still mandatory in Northern Ireland.

Changes have been made to social distancing rules in shops in Northern Ireland, but face masks are still required.

They are required to be worn in shops including hairdressers and beauticians and whilst on public transport unless you are exempt.

Face masks are no longer required to be worn during religious services, but they need to be worn when entering and leaving the place of worship.

There has been no suggested date to end the use of face masks, with Northern Ireland health officials in favour of their use.

Social distancing

There are no outdoor social distance requirements in Northern Ireland.

The Executive have also removed the need for social distancing in shops, cinemas and theatres, which will come into force at 18:00 on Thursday, September 30, 2021.

In hospitality, social distance restrictions of 1 metre still apply.

On Thursday, October 7, Stormont ministers will be meeting to discuss further changes to social distance rules.

Covid isolation rules

Self-isolating rules changed in August, with close contacts who are fully vaccinated and received their second dose two weeks prior to exposure, no longer having to immediately isolate.

Instead they are recommended to take a PCR Covid test on day two and eight after they were exposed to the virus, if they test positive standard self-isolating rules apply.

What about nightclubs?

Nightclubs have yet to reopen in Northern Ireland and indoor dancing is still not permitted.

No proposed or estimated date to lift these restrictions has been put forward.

In bars, table service rules were lifted in September, but all indoor gigs will still need to have allocated seating.

Changes to travel rules

Northern Ireland's travel rules will be changing from Monday, October 4, 2021.

The traffic light system will be going, instead leaving a red list, with countries being categorises as red and non-red.

Arrival requirements will be based on the travellers vaccination status, not the country they are travelling from.

Pre-departure testing has been also been removed for fully vaccinated people arriving from non-red list countries.

The latest advice and rules on travel are available on NI Direct.

Will there be vaccine passports?

In Northern Ireland there are no plans as of yet to introduce vaccine passports.

In the Republic of Ireland, vaccine passports are needed to enter bars and restaurants.

In Scotland, vaccine passports launch on Friday, October 1, 2021 with a grace period of 17 days whilst businesses prepare themselves for monitoring customer's vaccination status.