The Northern Ireland Executive has confirmed that indoor museums in the nation can provisionally reopen from 24 May.
Following a review this week, ministers agreed a package of relaxations to the current Covid regulations. Outdoor visitor attractions and activity centres will be able to welcome visitors back from 23 April, while outdoor hospitality will reopen from 30 April. The outdoor areas of stately homes, historic homes and castles have been able to remain open through lockdown.
The 24 May indicative date covers all indoor visitor and cultural attractions, and will be subject to review. Many of the nation’s museums have been closed since at least October 2020 after a series of rolling national lockdowns over autumn and winter.
The NI Executive had faced criticism for failing to provide enough detail to businesses on its roadmap out of lockdown.
Announcing the easing of restrictions yesterday, first minister Arlene Foster said: “This is a landmark day for Northern Ireland as we step firmly and with confidence on our pathway to recovery.
“I am pleased and proud that through our collective efforts we have reached a point where we have established a good level of control over the virus.
“We are now entering brighter and better times. This balanced package of relaxations will restore those familiar aspects of everyday life that have been missed dearly.
“I urge everyone to stay with us and keep following the health advice so that we can continue with our plans to more fully open up our society over coming weeks.”
Museums Associations policy manager Alistair Brown welcomed the news, saying museums have shown they are safe for visitors. He said: “We believe that museums have already proved that they can open in a Covid-secure way, and therefore museums ought to be able to open earlier in the unlocking process.
“Nevertheless, it will be a relief to museums across Northern Ireland to now have a date to work towards.”
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