Pubs, bars and restaurants reopen in Northern Ireland

A tourist explores the Giant's Causeway. Heritage sites such as Giant's Causeway have also reopened. Picture: PA

With reporting by Press Association

Hotels, restaurants and cafes have all re-opened in Northern Ireland today.

Bars and pubs can open their doors too - but must serve food if they are selling alcohol indoors.

Museums and heritage sites, such as the Giant's Causeway, have also been allowed to re-open as part of lockdown measures being eased.

Economy Minister Diane Dodds hailed the reopening of the sector as a hugely positive step forward as she visited a number of establishments on Friday.

“Businesses in this sector are a cornerstone of the Northern Ireland economy, employing around 65,000 people and generating in the region of £1 billion (€1.1bn) in revenue each year,” she said.

But these businesses also represent something more. They are the places people go to socialise, relax and enjoy themselves.

The opening move comes as Ireland approaches the end of its first week of Phase Three of the lockdown exit. 

Bars have also been able to reopen however they must serve food and a customer may not stay longer than one hour and 45 minutes. 

There has been concerns raised however that some pubs are not following the guidelines. 

Gardaí are to inspect pubs in Dublin this weekend to ensure they are keeping to Covid-19 guidelines.

Gardaí and the Licensed Vintners Association have called on pub owners in the capital not to break the rules ahead of the first weekend of trading since reopening.

Chief executive of the LVA, Donall O'Keeffe, says Gardaí will be looking to maintain public order.

Mr O'Keefe says: "Under licensing law, publicans have an obligation to run an orderly premises.

"In our view complying with public health guidelines is part of that.