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Northern Ireland Is Basically Paying Adults to Shop in Stores

Northern Ireland has ideas about how to help high-street shops get back on their feet.

The U.K. territory is set to distribute 100 pounds ($138.90) in prepaid cards to eligible adults in September via a voting registry requiring people to sign up even if they’ve cast a ballot in the past.

The program aims to incentivize consumers to reacquaint themselves with brick-and-mortar after more than a year of shying away from physical stores. The cards can only be redeemed in a store and aren’t eligible for online purchases, in keeping with the mission to revive high-street footfall.

Research indicates that fall is the best time to encourage more people to spend at the high street shopping districts, Northern Ireland Economy Minister Gordon Lyons said last week, adding that the government selected Prepaid Financial Services to distribute the cards.

The territory has recently relaxed some public health restrictions, after instituting strict lockdowns early in the year when a highly contagious coronavirus mutation cropped up in the U.K, sparking what is now a broadly global resurgence of Covid-19 infections. The Delta variant, for example, is behind roughly 93 percent of new U.S. cases, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Despite theaters and and concert venues getting the green light to reopen and social gathering thresholds bumped to 10 people from three households, up from six people from two home, Northern Ireland is keeping some travel limitations in place.

However, fully vaccinated people from either the European Union, except France, or the U.S. are now allowed to enter the territory without the need to quarantine, similar to what England, Scotland and Wales are doing.