Northern Ireland is to become the first part of the UK to permit limited indoor gatherings.

The Stormont Executive has announced a further relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions, with up to six people will be able to meet from tomorrow.

In a statement, the Stormont Executive said it strongly advised that the duration of the meetings should be limited, there should be good ventilation, good hand hygiene, and social distancing where possible.

It said the use of a face covering for indoor meetings is also strongly advised.

The relaxation does not permit overnight stays.

"The restrictions we have all been living with for the past three months have been an enormous burden borne by every member of our society.

"The limitations on our ability to meet loved ones has been particularly hard to bear," said Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster in a statement announcing the move.

"The executive did not take decisions to limit contact lightly, and we have been giving detailed consideration over the last number of weeks as to how and when we could safely facilitate greater contact between families and friends.

"Given the latest scientific evidence and medical advice on transmission rates of the virus, we are now in a position to relax the Regulations to enable meetings indoors."

Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill said: "We know how difficult it has been for people to be separated loved ones as we have all worked together to save lives during this pandemic.

"We have held firm to our commitment not to keep any restriction in place longer than necessary and have gradually been taking steps to facilitate contact between family, friends and support networks as safely as possible."

Restrictions for those advised to shield because they are considered at high risk of contracting coronavirus will also be relaxed early next month.

From 6 July, they will be able to meet in groups of up six people outdoors.

The moves were agreed at a meeting of the Stormont Executive this afternoon following a recommendation from its chief medical and scientific advisers.

For the second consecutive day, and for the ninth time in just over two weeks, no further coronavirus deaths were recorded in Northern Ireland during the previous 24-hour period.

There was one new case confirmed, taking the total recorded by the labs since the outbreak began to 4,871.

Minister Robin Swann said the easing of restrictions are based on the continuing reduction in the rate of community transmission of the virus in Northern Ireland.

"I have no doubt that shielding has played a key role in saving many lives," the minister said in a statement.

"It has undoubtedly been extremely difficult for those who are shielding. I have listened with great sympathy to what people have told us about feeling isolated and how they have missed their loved ones.

"I know these easements that take effect on 6 July will be welcome news to many as we move towards the pause in shielding from the end of July.

"However, I am also very conscious that there will be some who are apprehensive about this change. I would therefore, once again, repeat my call to everyone to continue to observe social distancing and to be considerate of the fact that the people you meet may have been shielding for many weeks."

The minister added that people who are shielding must strictly follow public health advice on social distancing and hand-washing.