Tight new restrictions have been announced for Northern Ireland today as the Executive bids to get a grip on spiralling Covid-19 infection rates.

First Minister Arlene Foster said,

‘We are facing the tough reality of rapidly rising rates of infection. There are increasing numbers of people requiring acute care in our hospitals and 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.”

Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said: “The Executive has taken these very difficult decisions in response to the emergency situation we are faced with. The Coronavirus infection rate has reached crisis levels and our health service is in real danger of becoming overwhelmed.

“Urgent intervention is needed to interrupt the spread of the virus and prevent a worsening of the situation.

“These measures will be in place for four weeks, but they will only be effective if we have the support of public. We are appealing to everyone to do everything you can over these next few weeks to help keep everyone safe and save lives.

“We know this is hard and that people will be really worried about their livelihoods, but we will do everything we possibly can to make sure there are protections in place for families, workers and businesses.'

Here are the new restrictions announced today:

Hospitality sector


  • Closure of the hospitality sector apart from deliveries and take aways for food, with the existing closing time of 11pm remaining. Other take away premises will then be brought in line with hospitality with a closing time of 11pm;


  • The half-term holiday break will be extended from October 19-30 with schools reopening on Monday, November 2. To permit this the Department of Education will allocate to schools two of the Optional Days and the remainder of the additional time through Exceptional Closure Days.

Weddings and funerals

  • Wedding ceremonies and civil partnerships to be limited to 25 people with NO receptions. This will be implemented on Monday, October 19. Venues providing the post-ceremony or partnership celebration may remain open for this purpose this weekend but may not provide other services for people who are not part of the wedding or partnership and this will be limited to 25;
  • Funerals and committals to be limited to 25 people with no pre- or post-funeral gatherings;
  • Places of worship to remain open with a mandatory requirement to wear face coverings when entering and exiting. This will not apply to parties to a marriage or civil partnership;

The rest of the new rules

  • Maintenance of current household restrictions. This means a continuation of the restriction on meeting indoors, and a limit on the number who can meet in a garden. There are existing exemptions for child care and maintenance etc which would stay in place. However, as close contact economy is proposed for closure, it would be consistent with that to prohibit the provision of those services (eg hairdressing) in a domestic setting
  • Close contact services such as hairdressers and beauticians are not permitted to open, apart from those relating to the continuation of essential health interventions and therapeutics.
  • Bubbling to be limited to a maximum of 10 people from 2 households;
  • No overnight stays in a private home unless in a bubble;
  • Work from home unless unable to do so;
  • Universities and further education to deliver distance learning to the maximum extent possible with only essential face to face learning where that is a necessary and unavoidable part of the course;
  • Retail will stay open. However, there will be urgent engagement with the sector to ensure that retail is doing everything it can to help suppress the virus
  • Closure of close contact services apart from those meeting essential health needs which will be defined in the Regulations to ensure continuation of essential health interventions and therapeutics. This will not include complimentary treatments;
  • No indoor sport of any kind or organised contact sport involving household mixing other than at elite level;
  • No mass events involving more than 15 people (except for allowed outdoor sporting events where the relevant number for that will continue to apply);
  • Gyms may remain open but for individual training only with local enforcement in place;
  • In guidance, no unnecessary travel will be advised;
  • Off licenses and supermarkets will not be permitted to sell alcohol after 8pm.