Northern Ireland begins two-week ‘circuit-breaker’ lockdown today: Pubs, restaurants and non-essential shops are shut in bid to stem Covid – but schools and churches stay open
- Northern Ireland entered a new two-week circuit breaker lockdown overnight
- The country had just finished another fortnight-long circuit breaker last week
- But infection numbers rose as the circuit breaker came to an end last Friday
The country officially entered a new ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown overnight, just weeks after coming out of another limited lockdown.
The country was poised to emerge from the limited circuit-breaker last week.
But the number of infections rose as the lockdown came to an end last Friday, sparking ministers to warn that the health service was in danger of being overwhelmed.
Most of the hospitality sector has now been forced to close again, after cafes were allowed to open last Friday.
Non-essential retail and services like hairdressers and beauticians have all had to close.
Most of the hospitality sector has now been forced to close again, after cafes were allowed to open last Friday
Schools and childcare will remain open, as well as churches for individual prayer.
Takeaway hospitality will be allowed but leisure and entertainment venues will be closed.
The measures were taken as top doctors warned hospitals could otherwise be overwhelmed.
First Minister Arlene Foster said: ‘The Executive has been presented today with the sobering prospect of our hospitals becoming overwhelmed within weeks.
‘It is clear that a tough, carefully timed, intervention is required to give us the best chance to have a safe and happy Christmas and further into the new year period.
First Minister Arlene Foster said: ‘The Executive has been presented today with the sobering prospect of our hospitals becoming overwhelmed within weeks
‘The Executive has taken the decision to put in place a short, sharp circuit-breaker from Friday November 27 to reset and drive down infection rates right across Northern Ireland.
‘This is not the position we had hoped to be in as the current phase of restrictions comes towards an end. The R rate has unfortunately not dropped as far, or for as long, as had been estimated.
‘We have taken some time today to look at the reasons for this.
‘Sadly it is clear that a careless minority have significantly undermined the sacrifices of the many.
‘So I want to take this opportunity to say to those who feel it’s acceptable to flout public health advice, think again.
‘We all need to work together to save our hospitals, to save Christmas, to save lives.’
What is closing in the two-week circuit breaker lockdown in Northern Ireland?
The lockdown means the closure of:
All retail except essential retail that was permitted to stay open in the Spring;
Off licences will remain open, with an 8pm closing;
Close contact services, and driving instruction (not motorcycles), except close contact for Film and TV production; those ancillary to medical, health and social care services; and elite-sports therapeutic services – i.e. – as 13 October- 19 November;
All hospitality (except for accommodation for essential travel). Takeaway and delivery, and food and drink in motorway services, airports and harbour terminals remain open;
All leisure and entertainment (to include all soft play areas, gyms, swimming pools etc);
Sporting events only permitted for elite sports. Individual/household outdoor exercise and school PE to continue;
Elite sports events behind closed doors without spectators;
No household gatherings of more than one household, other than current arrangements for linked households (bubbles), with current exceptions for caring, maintenance, house moves, etc.;
Places of worship, except for weddings, civil partnerships and funerals. Remain with 25 max for weddings and funerals;
Stay at home, work from home if at all possible, otherwise only leave for essential purposes such as education, healthcare needs, to care for others or outdoor exercise;
Schools and childcare to remain open;
Universities / FE to provide learning at distance except where it is essential to provide it face to face;
Public parks and outdoor play areas remain open;
Stay at home in guidance, with liaison with PSNI on policing and police visibility; and
Financial support package to be developed over next few days.