As of Friday, N.I. under new lockdown measures
Tough new Covid-19 restrictions came into force late last night at 00:01 GMT on Friday and will be in place until 00:01 on 11 December.
This new two week circuit breaker lockdown will see the closure of non-essential retailers and close contact services like hairdressers. Garden centres, supermarkets and homeware stores are exempt from closing under the new regulations. Apart from schools, which have been permitted to remain open, the lockdown resembles the one we had in March.
New coronavirus restrictions:
- Closure of all non-essential retail (Click and collect services still available)
- Closure of close contact services
- Closure of the hospitality sector (restaurants and cafes permitted to offer takeaways)
- All entertainment and leisure venues to close
- Off licences can remain open (they must close by 8pm)
- Closure of places of worship (exceptions made for weddings and funerals)
- Schools will remain open
The executive hopes that this two week circuit breaker will help to curb the spread of the coronavirus and make sure that the R number drops below one. The aim is to have a safer Christmas period.
Unfortunately, the numbers are just not bearing it out yet. Northern Ireland has seen 962 coronavirus-related deaths. Just yesterday, Thursday 26th, the Department of Health reported eight deaths and 442 new positive cases of Covid-19.
Speaking in a press conference, the First and Deputy First Ministers urged caution and emphasised the importance of social distancing.
First Minister Arlene Foster said the next two weeks “are crucial… so that we can all have the safest and the happiest Christmas possible”.
Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill spoke about the arrangements for the so-called “Christmas bubble” that would see up to three households mix for five days from 23-27 December. She said a “number of things need clarified” about the upcoming arrangements. “There is a difference in approach across all the jurisdictions in terms of, for example, what a household looks like and it’s important that we define that for ourselves.”
They also announced that a Covid-19 Taskforce was being established to oversee the new vaccine rollouts and redoubled Covid-19 testing programs.