The Executive have confirmed today, Thursday, that social distancing can be reduced to one metre if the appropriate mitigations are made from Monday, June 29.

Speaking at the daily Stormont briefing, First Minister, Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister, Michelle O'Neill made the announcement along with a number of more indicative dates for the reopening and resumption of certain activities.

The hospitality sector had called for the move to reduce social distancing from two metres to help them when businesses reopened.

Economy Minister Dianne Dodds brough the proposal to the Executive.

However it was reiterated that if businesses can adhere to the two metre social distancing rule then they should do so.

"A minimum one-metre distance between individuals can be considered acceptable in circumstances where appropriate mitigations are made," said First Minister Foster.

She said the relaxations had been made through the efforts of people to drive down the rate of infection.

"Northern Ireland is opening up again, however there is an onus on all of us not to ease the fight and vigilance against Covid-19."

From July 3 betting shops can reopen; July 6 will see the reopening of tattoo parlours, reflexology businesses and libraries; Indoor gyms and outdoor playgrounds will reopen on July 10; Competitive sport will resume on July 17 while leisure centres and soft play areas will be able to reopen on August 17.

Also today, the Department of Health reported the R number as remaining steady of between 0.6 and 0.9.

The low rate of transmission is helping the Executive in its decision making and the Executive has indicated that keeping R below 1 is a key objective as we move forward in the epidemic.