NEW lockdown restrictions across Northern Ireland will begin on 26 December, the executive has agreed.
Non-essential shops will close from the end of trading on Christmas Eve.
Ministers will review the measures after four weeks.
Close-contact services, such as hair salons, will have to shut and pubs, cafes and restaurants will be restricted to takeaway services.
The first week of the lockdown, running until 2 January, will see even tighter measures with essential shops having to close each day by 8pm.
No sporting events will be permitted at all - even at elite level - with people being urged only to leave their home for essential reasons.
Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill said she recognised the lockdown would be "disappointing" for many people, but that it was clear a "longer and deeper intervention" was necessary.
"The health service would be completely crushed in January if we didn't intervene now, so while this is draconian, it's about saving lives," she said.
"We've never been in such a bad position as we are now, and will be in January if this didn't happen now."
The new rules will include:
-Closure of all non-essential retail, including garden centres and homeware shops that previously were deemed essential
-Click-and-collect services will not be permitted
-Closure of close contact services such as hair and beauty salons
-Hospitality businesses will only be allowed to offer takeaway and delivery
-Off-licences will have to close by 8pm
-Car washes will be closed
-Hotels will be allowed to remain open until 28 December to "accommodate the Christmas situation"
However, people from up to three households in Northern Ireland will still be able to meet over the festive period in so-called Christmas "bubbles".
It follows a previous agreement between the UK nations to stick to plans to allow three households to mix between 23 and 27 December.
The new lockdown is being imposed in response to rising numbers of cases of the virus in Northern Ireland.
On Thursday, a further 12 Covid-linked deaths were recorded in NI and a further 656 cases of the virus.
It is understood people will also not be allowed to meet others in private gardens, while restrictions on indoor visits to people's homes will remain in place.
Health officials have also proposed limiting the reopening of schools in January.
It is understood a package of interventions will be drawn up by the education and health departments and further discussions on this issue will take place.