Pubs and restaurants in Northern Ireland will be forced to close from Friday, but places of worship and gyms will be allowed to remain open
A four-week “circuit breaker” style lockdown will come into force throughout Northern Ireland on Friday in an attempt to stall the rise in coronavirus infections.
First Minister Arlene Foster confirmed the move and said the half-term holiday would be extended, and now last from the 19the to the 30th of October.
Pubs and restaurants will have to shut unless they offer a takeaway service, but places of worship, shops and gyms can stay open.
This comes after the mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, has said that pictures of people partying on the streets have “shamed” the city that is under tier 3 COVID-19 restrictions and has the third-highest number of hospital admissions for COVID-19 in Europe.
Overnight stays in other homes are also banned.
The Derry and Strabane Council area, which already has extra restrictions, has been experiencing the highest infection rate in the UK and Ireland, with a seven day average of 970 cases per 100,000 people.
It comes amid growing calls for a similar short national lockdown in other UK nations.
Northern Ireland’s government acted following a meeting of the Stormont executive which lasted into the early hours.
The new restrictions in Northern Ireland include:
- Household bubbles must be no bigger than 10 people from two households
- Overnight stays in other homes are banned
- Closure of “close contact services” (unless required for essential health reasons)
- Indoor sport of all kinds suspended, apart from at an elite level
- Mass events involving more than 15 people are to be banned
- Off licences and supermarkets will not be permitted to sell alcohol after 8pm
- Hospitality sector to close, apart from takeaway services
- No unnecessary travel should be undertaken
- Universities and further education providers should provide distance learning as much as, and where possible
- People are required to work from home where they can
- Gyms to remain open for individual training
- Places of worship to remain open, as long as face coverings are worn
- Wedding ceremonies and civil partnerships to be limited to 25 people with no receptions from the 19th of October
- Funerals and committals to be limited to 25 people with no pre or post-funeral gatherings
- Shops can remain open
This comes after the aim of the government’s new 3-tier COVID-19 national lockdown system is to get the coronavirus under control by the beginning of next year and hopefully in time for Christmas, a minister has told the press.
Ms Foster said: “We fully appreciate that this will be difficult and worrying news for a lot of people.”
“The Executive has taken this decision because it is necessary, and we discussed the impacts in great detail. We do not take this step lightly.”
“We must reach a different place on both the numbers and on getting back to the basics of social distancing and I know everyone will want to work with us on that.”
“Small acts can have large and important contributions to managing COVID-19.”