The latest UK lockdown comes after ministers at Stormont were told that the coronavirus R rate continues to sit at around 1.0 and hospital inpatient numbers are at a higher level than in the first wave. Up until now, NI has been in a quasi lockdown, with restrictions on socialising and a number of non-essential businesses forced to close. Originally due to last until Friday, November 20, there will be one week of respite for businesses forced to close until they must close again next Friday, November 27.
The new rules will be in place for two weeks, until December 11.
The NI executive took the decision after being shown the latest modelling, which indicates now is the best time to introduce harsher restrictions in the hope that Christmas can be salvaged.
On Thursday the NI’s Department of Health recorded 487 new confirmed cases of coronavirus, bringing the total since the outbreak of the pandemic in the country to 48,716.
The latest figures showed that hospital bed occupancy was at 100 percent, with 456 patients being treated for the virus.
The seven-day Covid average across Northern Ireland is 181 cases per 100,000 of population.
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.”
“We all need to work together to save our hospitals, to save Christmas, to save lives.”