The two-metre social distancing rule is to be halved in Northern Ireland in a major boost for the hospitality industry, it is understood.
The rule is expected to change to one metre, with restrictions, as lockdown measures are relaxed.
Business owners have been pleading for the change and believe it could save thousands of jobs once pubs, restaurants and hotels reopen.
Stormont ministers met on Thursday to discuss the change.
Cafes, bars and other eateries are due to welcome back customers in Northern Ireland on July 3 if the rate of spread of coronavirus remains low.
On Thursday, the health department said the infection rate is still below one – which is deemed crucial to allowing further changes to the rules.
As of June 21, the seven-day rolling average of new cases was two.
In the past seven days from June 18, there have been four deaths reported.