Northern Ireland announces four-week lockdown restrictions
The restrictions are set to last four weeks
Northern Ireland has announced increased restrictions after executive ministers agreed to the closure of schools, pubs and restaurants.
The tighter restrictions are expected to be in place for four weeks and it's understood that schools will be closing for two, with one of these being the half-term break.
The new measures will mean pubs and restaurants have to close, although takeaways will be allowed to remain open, as well as delivery services.
People are urged to work from home where possible and not to make non-essential journeys.
Retail outlets are will remain open, as will churches, and gyms for individual training.
Sporting activities meanwhile will be limited to elite level athletes only for the four weeks.
Current restrictions on household mixing remain unchanged.
The measures are were confirmed during a sitting of the Stormont Assembly on Wednesday morning. The closure of schools will come into effect as early as Friday, with the rest coming into effect on Monday, 19 October.
First Minister Arlene Foster said of the new restrictions:
"We fully appreciate that this will be difficult and worrying news for a lot of people.
"The Executive has taken this decision because it is necessary, and we discussed the impacts in great detail. We do not take this step lightly.
"We must reach a different place on both the numbers and on getting back to the basics of social distancing and I know everyone will want to work with us on that.
"Small acts can have large and important contributions to managing COVID-19."
Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill wrote on Twitter that "painstaking consideration" had been given to the "next steps" the executive would take.
The Exec has given painstaking consideration to next steps.
We know this is hard and that people will be worried about their livelihoods, but we will do everything we possibly can to make sure there are protections in place for businesses, workers and families. Update in morning
— Michelle O’Neill (@moneillsf) October 13, 2020
On Tuesday, 863 new cases of Covid-19 were confirmed in Northern Ireland by its Department of Health.
Seven further deaths were also reported, with four of them occurring in the 24 hours before the announcement.