Northern Ireland’s tourism and hospitality sector is starting up sooner than expected with a new schedule for its reopening, writes Shauna McCrudden
“Northern Ireland is the world’s best-kept secret, both in the character of its people, and its scenery.” – Liam Neeson
If there is one place I love to have a staycation more than anywhere else, it’s Northern Ireland. It’s just a short drive away but with all the stunning attractions and natural landscapes, it feels like a whole new world. So it’s good news that the plans to reopen the tourism and hospitality sector in Northern Ireland were announced just this week.
Named Best Food Destination only last year at the prestigious International Travel and Tourism Awards in London, Northern Ireland will be opening up its food and drink scene, accommodation, and many top attractions from Friday, 26th June. The dates are totally conditional on controlling the rate of transmission of Covid-19 and social distancing measures will of course remain in place.
For a list of reopening dates, see below:
1. Self-catering, caravan parks, and campsites will open from 26th June
Check in to beautiful self-catering accommodation or pitch up in caravan parks and campsites as they reopen from 26th June.
2. Other accommodation including hotels will reopen from 3rd July
Northern Ireland’s hotels will reopen for visitors. However, spa and leisure facilities within hotels will remain closed for now.
3. Restaurants, cafes and coffee shops will also reopen from 3rd July
You will be able to book your favourite restaurants again, try new foodie experiences, or visit cafés and coffee shops across Northern Ireland from 3rd July.
4. Bars will reopen from 3rd July, serving food and alcohol with table service
Public houses and bars will also be permitted to re-open for the purposes of selling food and alcohol on a table service basis. Bars with outside spaces, such as beer gardens, will be able to use these spaces to serve alcohol on a table service basis.
5. Visitor attractions will reopen from 3rd July
Across a range of sectors, visitor attractions will reopen from 3rd July. It is also best to visit the attraction website directly to double-check opening hours and to purchase tickets in advance if required.
6. Small shops and shopping centres have already reopened
You can browse the shops in the local areas and shopping centres across Northern Ireland as they are currently open again.
7. Public transport available and operational
Northern Ireland is easy to get around and Translink public transport routes are still operating to explore all areas. The services include cross-border bus and train routes, it is advised to check with your provider before travelling as some routes are operating a slightly reduced service.
8. Some new booking systems have been introduced
Some locations have introduced new measures and booking systems. For example, the National Trust has started to open gardens and parks, but to keep everyone safe you must book your visit in advance. They release new tickets every Friday and are opening more gardens and parks every week.
9. Social distancing is still in place
Social distancing measures of 2 metres are still in place across Northern Ireland to ensure the safety of everyone. Plan your visits in line with ongoing restrictions.
10. Book in advance
Tourism Northern Ireland has said it is strongly recommended to plan your itinerary and book in advance to avoid disappointment. With stunning mountain and coastal walks and chances to explore the fresh air, check out local council websites for carpark updates before you start your adventure.
To learn more and to book your short break to Northern Ireland, visit discovernorthernireland.com
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