Coronavirus: Northern Ireland begins six-week lockdown

A six-week lockdown has begun in Northern Ireland in a bid to stop the spread of COVID-19.  ...

10.48 26 Dec 2020

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Coronavirus: Northern Ireland...

Coronavirus: Northern Ireland begins six-week lockdown


10.48 26 Dec 2020

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A six-week lockdown has begun in Northern Ireland in a bid to stop the spread of COVID-19. 

Non-essential retailers will shut from today, with essential services forced to stop trading each day by 8pm GMT during the first week of the measures.

Close-contact services, such as hair and beauty salons, are also to close, while pubs, cafes and restaurants are restricted to takeaway and delivery services.


A night-time curfew is also being imposed for the first week.

The restrictions – which came into effect at a minute past midnight on Saint Stephen's Day – will be reviewed in four weeks' time.

The new rules in full:

  • Closure of all non-essential retail, including garden centres and homeware shops
  • Closure of close contact services
  • A halt on click-and-collect retail services
  • Hospitality businesses (pubs, restaurants, cafés) can only offer takeaway and delivery
  • Closure of the leisure and entertainment sector
  • Off-licences must close by 8pm
  • Hotels will be allowed to remain open until 28 December to "accommodate the Christmas situation"
  • No gatherings - indoor or outdoor - are permitted between 8pm - 6pm each day
  • Outdoor exercise is permitted only with members of your own household
  • And no sporting activity is allowed at all during the first week of lockdown, but elite sport will be allowed to resume - without spectators - from 2 January

Tighter restrictions still are set to be implemented in a week's time, with Health Minister Robin Swann saying the stay-at-home message during this week would be made "legally enforceable".

Newly-employed COVID-19 marshals will ensure retail compliance, according to the BBC.

In the Republic, the government is introducing tougher restrictions earlier than planned after a spike in COVID-19 cases in recent days.

In a national address just before Christmas, the Taoiseach said household visits will be limited to one other household from 27 December.

From 1 January, no household or garden visits will be permitted.

Non-essential inter-county travel will not be permitted from 27 December, but people will be allowed to return to their home place after that date.

The Health Minister Stephen Donnelly says Ireland is moving closer to an all-island approach to tackle the coronavirus.

Minister Donnelly told The Hard Shoulder the Irish Government is playing its part, but that there are "unique political and cultural considerations".

"My view has always been, and I think most people's view is, that the disease couldn't care less about the Battle of the Boyne or anything else.

"Ultimately the closer we can get to an all-island response to this the better."

The full list of measures can be read here.

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