The Executive has today agreed a range of significant time-bound interventions to curb the spread of Covid-19 in Northern Ireland.
In addition to current household restrictions, the following measures will come into regulatory effect on Friday 16th October and will be in place for a period of four weeks:
And the following advice will be added to the existing health guidance:
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;
No unnecessary travel should be undertaken.
The half term holiday break for schools and colleges will be extended to a two-week break to run from 19th to 30th October.
Places of worship will 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 partnerships.
The retail sector will also stay open at this time. Further engagement is planned to ensure that the sector does everything it can to help suppress the virus.
The Executive will urgently engage with sectors and work on support for those affected as a matter of priority.
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.”