As I start to write this blog article it has just turned 5pm and this is exactly the time when all remaining Covid-19 restrictions in Northern Ireland have been lifted, hopefully for the final time. The government announced the changes to the regulations yesterday evening and now they have come into effect there will be a big sigh of relief across all the business community up and down the land.
Face Coverings No Longer Required By Law
Face coverings will no longer be required by law to be worn in shops, offices and on public transport, although the guidance will still be there. Also you will no longer need a Covid certificate to be allowed entry to a nightclub or a sports event etc. As for businesses they will no longer have to carry out coronavirus risk assessments at their premises or collect track and trace data from customers.
Guidance is still there for people to self isolate if they do catch Covid and workers are still being encouraged to work from home wherever it is possible.
Businesses Desperately Hoping To Get Back To Normal
Aaron Chism, the co-owner of Belfast city centre clothes shop Fuzz Vintage, talked to the Belfast Telegraph about the changes and he welcomed them saying:
“Hopefully there’s going to be more people knocking about Belfast and they’ll feel more comfortable to go into shops and we’ll get more customers,” he told the PA news agency.
“It’s been quiet with lockdowns and stuff and then having to be closed. We opened in the middle of things before a second lockdown – it was a harsh time to open a shop but hopefully it’s going back to normal now.”
And in the same article Stormont Finance Minister Conor Murphy said:
“We look forward to a time that we can remove all restrictions, and all guidance becomes a thing of the past.
“But the pandemic is still going on, there are still people dying, there’s still people contracting the virus. And so there has to be a degree of caution in relation to that.”
This has to be the right decision moving forward, we must return to a normal way of life if we are ever going to recover fully from the pandemic and this does feel like the right time to do so. Although we must all be cautious with our social activity around the most vulnerable in society and ensure we sanitise our hands on a regular basis, we look forward to getting back to our usual way of life that we all took for granted a couple of years back.