Northern Ireland will face further restrictions in a bid to curb the number of COVID-19 casesNorthern Ireland will face further restrictions in a bid to curb the number of COVID-19 cases.

Today, first minister Arlene Foster announced a package of measures, including the closure of the hospitality sector.

From Friday, pubs and restaurants will be limited to takeaway and delivery services for the next four weeks. Additionally, schools will be closed from Monday for two weeks – which includes the half term holiday.

This comes as the country’s health department notes more than 23,000 cases since the onset of the pandemic at the beginning of the year. A quarter of these have been reported in the last week.

‘Tough reality’

Other restrictions include:

  • Bubbles limited to a maximum of 10 people from two households
  • Prohibition of close contact services at beauticians and hairdressers
  • No indoor or organised sport involving a mix of households (except at an elite level)
  • No overnight stays in a private home unless part of a bubble
  • Mass events limited to just 15 people
  • Supermarkets and of licences to stop selling alcohol after 8pm.

‘We are facing the tough reality of rapidly rising rates of infection,’ said first minister Arlene Foster.

‘There are increasing numbers of people requiring acute care in our hospitals. Sadly, we learned yesterday of the death of seven people from COVID-19.

‘The Executive has given careful and painstaking consideration of the right blend of actions that will do maximum damage to the virus but minimum harm to life chances today and tomorrow.

‘We understand that these interventions will be hard. But they will not be in place for a moment longer than they need to be. I would ask everyone to work with us to save lives and protect our health service.’

Currently, no further restrictions to dental services in Northern Ireland have been announced.