A timeline of when businesses in Northern Ireland can reopen as coronavirus lockdown restrictions are eased
To slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), the Northern Ireland Executive introduced measures placing restrictions on how businesses operate.
The legislation, known as the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020, became law on 28 March 2020.
Easing of restrictions
On 12 May 2020, the Executive published a five-stage recovery plan to ease restrictions. The individual phases outlined are based upon exiting lockdown safely alongside the health, wellbeing and safety of people.
As lockdown restrictions are lifted during each stage, more businesses will be allowed to reopen. All future business opening dates announced by the Executive are based on their ongoing assessment of the control of the transmission rate of coronavirus and are subject to change.
This timeline highlights those businesses that can open (subject to restrictions) in addition to where local employers and employees can find guidance on keeping themselves and their workplaces safe.
From 24 March 2020
Some businesses can trade, with restrictions on what they can do. These include:
- Restaurants, including restaurants and dining rooms in hotels or members’ clubs.
- Bars, including bars in hotels or members’ clubs.
- Public houses.
- Cafes, including workplace canteens.
For further information on businesses that may trade subject to restrictions, see Coronavirus: Business closures and restrictions
Some businesses can operate with customers on-site, under a legal duty to follow social distancing measures. These include:
- Food retailers, including food markets, supermarkets, convenience stores and corner shops.
- Pharmacies (including non-dispensing pharmacies) and chemists.
- Homeware, building supplies and hardware stores.
- Petrol stations.
- Car repair and MOT services.
- Bicycle shops.
- Taxi and vehicle hire businesses.
- Banks, building societies, credit unions, short term loan providers and cashpoints.
- Post offices.
- Funeral directors.
- Launderette and dry cleaners.
- Dental services, opticians, audiology services, chiropody, chiropractors, osteopaths and other medical and health services, including services relating to mental health.
- Veterinary surgeons and pet shops.
- Agricultural supplies shop.
- Storage and distribution facilities, including delivery, drop off or collection points, where the facilities are in the premises of the above businesses.
- Car parks.
- Public toilets.
Online retail can remain open and postal and delivery services are allowed to run as normal.
For further information on businesses that may trade with the public on-site subject to restrictions, see Coronavirus: Business closures and restrictions
From 27 March 2020
The following can operate with customers on-site, under a legal duty to follow social distancing measures:
- Off licences and licensed shops selling alcohol (including breweries).
From 18 May 2020
Some large outdoor-based businesses are permitted to reopen from Monday 18 May 2020, under a legal duty to follow social distancing measures. These include:
- Garden centres and ornamental plant nurseries.
- Recycling centres.
Businesses with associated cafes and restaurants in these sectors, eg garden centre cafes, can only offer takeaway or collection.
From 8 June 2020
Subject to the control of the coronavirus transmission rate, certain outdoor non-food retail businesses are allowed to open from Monday 8 June 2020. These businesses include:
- new and used car retailers
- retailers of light motor vehicles, lorries and trailers
- retailers of caravans or motorhomes
- retailers of agricultural or other large machinery
Also, certain retail businesses with lower customer density, which meet criteria around standalone retail outlets and stores situated within retail parks (but not within the confines of a shopping centre) can reopen from 8 June 2020. These businesses include:
- retail of electrical household appliances
- retail sale of computers, peripheral units and software (but excluding the retail of video games)
- retail sale of audio and video equipment
- retail of telecommunications equipment
- retail of household furniture and lighting and other household articles
- retailers of carpets, rugs, curtains, wall and floor coverings
This will only apply where retail outlets with lower customer density have direct street access or direct access within a retail park.
For more detail on the criteria for this phase of restrictions being eased – see Coronavirus: Executive sets out plans for retail to reopen from June.
20 July 2020 at the earliest
Subject to the control of the coronavirus transmission rate, certain tourism and hospitality businesses can provisionally reopen from Monday 20 July 2020. These businesses include:
- Holiday and home parks, caravan sites and self-catering properties.
- Guesthouses, guest accommodation, B&Bs, hotels and hostels.
For more detail on the criteria for this phase of restrictions being eased – see Coronavirus: Reopening plan for hotels and other tourist accommodation.
Plans for the reopening of other businesses, subject to the Northern Ireland Executive assessment of the control of the transmission rate of coronavirus, will be published as soon as the information is available.
Further advice on workplace safety
For practical steps on how local employers and employees can keep themselves and their workplaces safe, see the following guidance:
- Workplace safety guidance and priority sector list.
- Workplace safety guidelines and social distancing