The Northern Ireland Executive said music venues and theatres could open from 6pm on 28 July, however Stormont has insisted Covid-19 mitigation measures are enforced.

Restriction include a requirement that event attendees maintain one-metre social distancing in venues and purchase tickets in advance. All ticket holders must have allocated seating.

Live music is permitted for rehearsals and performances, and there are no restrictions to the volume of background music.

Veteran Belfast singer-songwriter Van Morrison (pictured) said the move was shambolic: “Regrettably like many other sectors, there’s been no advance warning, no plan or roadmap for the industry.

“Stormont have lost the confidence in the public and are clearly deaf to our industry when making decisions.”

Communities minister Deirdre Hargey welcomed the Executive’s announcement and said she looked forward to attending a performance.

She said, “The huge part that the arts play in our lives has come into sharp focus through the closure of theatres, concert halls and other venues during the pandemic with the necessary cancellation of so many performances.

“When these venues suffer so does our economy as they employ thousands of staff directly and indirectly, they help boost tourism and also work to support our hospitality sector.”