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18 December 2020

Northern Ireland - new Covid-19 restrictions

Northern Ireland - new Covid-19 restrictions

The BPIF is awaiting clarification and further details related to the latest announcement of further restrictions in Northern Ireland.

Some confusion exists around the new restrictions - in particlar just what businesses are expected to close during the overnight curfew that runns from the 26 December to 2 January.

Initial reports referred to shops and retail outlets. However, the released statement identifies "all businesses". The Department for Health's press office has so far only been able to confirm that "the detail on the latest restrictions will be added to nidirect in the coming days."

Visit the nidirect website here.

Unofficial sources are suggesting that sectors such as manufacturing will be able to continue to operate.

The Department for Health released the following statement on 18 December 2020:

Health Minister Robin Swann has welcomed the NI Executive’s agreement to introduce a series of Covid-19 restrictions from 00:01 on December 26, 2020.

The restrictions will be in place for six weeks, subject to review at four weeks.

The Health Minister will be making an oral statement to the Assembly on Monday setting out the evidence that informed the Executive's discussions and detailing the regulations that are being introduced.

In summary, the restrictions for the six-week period include:

  • Closure of hospitality and non-essential retail with a stricter demarcation between essential and non-essential retail than that deployed during the recent circuit breaker. Click and collect retail will not be permitted, and homeware will not be categorised as essential retail. Off sales (including from bars) will be permitted from 08:00 on Monday to Saturday, and from 10:00 on Sunday, until 20:00 on any day. Hospitality businesses will only be allowed to offer takeaway and delivery food.
  • Closure of close contact businesses.
  • Places of worship can remain open under strict conditions.

In addition, there will be a one-week period of additional restrictions from 26 December to 2 January. Between 20:00 and 06:00 during this period:

  • All businesses which are able to remain open as part of the restrictions must close between these hours.
  • No indoor or outdoor gatherings of any kind would be permitted after 20:00 and before 06:00, including at sporting venues.
  • Outdoor exercise would be permitted only with members of your own household.
  • No household mixing would be permitted in private gardens or indoors in any setting between these times, except for emergencies or the provision of health or care services or where households have chosen to form a Christmas bubble for a period of time between 23 to 27 December with provision for travel a day either side when absolutely necessary.
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