Northern Nightclubs to Close, Rule of Six, and Indoor Mixing Guidance

Northern Ireland will close nightclubs from Boxing Day and reintroduce the rule of six at pubs and restaurants.

Leaders have also issued guidance around limiting household mixing in response to rising Omicron numbers. The Omicron variant is set to become the dominant strain of coronavirus in Northern Ireland “within a matter of days”, Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill told a news conference.

Christmas Day celebrations are being spared in the measures – which include limits on numbers and the return to rules mandating table service at pubs and restaurants from December 26.

Nightclubs in the country will have to close their doors from 8pm on Boxing Day – a further blow after they were the last in the UK to reopen, on 31 October.

This follows the announcement earlier this week of the closure of Welsh nightclubs from 27 December. Welsh first minister Mark Drakeford followed that by today announcing of a return to the rule of six and two-metre social distancing to Welsh hospitality venues, as well as table service in licensed venues. Similar measures were yesterday announced for Scotland, with one-metre social distancing for hospitality and leisure venues and table service for those selling alcohol from 27 December.

Some 3,231 new cases of the virus were confirmed in Northern Ireland Wednesday, a jump from 2,096 cases recorded on Tuesday.

It is the highest increase reported in Northern Ireland for a 24-hour period since Covid reporting began in April 2020.