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Dublin: 6°C Wednesday 19 January 2022

Explainer: What are the new Covid-19 restrictions in Northern Ireland?

The majority of the restrictions will kick in on Friday and will be in place for four weeks.

Image: PA

THIS MORNING THE Northern Ireland Executive announced new Covid-19 restrictions which will see schools and many businesses closed for a number of weeks.

First Minister Arlene Foster said most of the restrictions will kick in from Friday and will be in place for four weeks, though schools are only expected to remain closed for two weeks.

Household mixing

Under current restrictions in the North up to six people from two households can meet in a private garden, while maintaining social distancing.

Households are not allowed to mix indoors in private homes, other than with a person who is in their bubble.

Households in Northern Ireland are allowed to form a bubble with one other household that they can be in close contact with. This allows, for example, an adult child to be in close contact with parents after they have moved out or for a couple living separately to stay the night with one another.

People who form a bubble should only have close contact with the others in their bubble. 

The Executive has decided to keep these restrictions on meetings in place for the next four weeks, but with bubbles limited to a maximum of 10 people from two households – previously there was no limit on the number of people, so long as it was two households.

No overnight stays in a private home are allowed unless it is someone from your bubble. 

There are exemptions to the household mixing restrictions for childcare and maintenance and these will remain in place. 

No mass events, other than allowed outdoor sporting events, can take place. 


The school half-term break will be extended to a two-week break to run from 19 October.

Universities and and further education colleges are 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.

Pubs and restaurants

Businesses in the hospitality sector, including bars and restaurants, will have to close apart from deliveries and takeaways for food. The existing 11pm closing time remains in place. 

Other takeaway businesses will be brought in line with this 11pm closing time.

Off licences and supermarkets will not sell alcohol after 8pm.

Other businesses

The retail sector will stay open.

Services that involve close contact such as hairdressers and beauticians are not allowed to open apart from those relating to the continuation of essential health intervention and therapeutics.

People are being advised to work from home unless they are unable to do so.

Weddings and funerals

Wedding ceremonies and civil partnerships will be limited to 25 people with no receptions. This will be implemented from 19 October.

Venues providing receptions over this weekend may remain open for this purpose but may not provide services for other people who are not part of the wedding party. The receptions that go ahead this weekend will be limited to 25 people.

Funerals will be limited to 25 people with no pre or post-funeral gatherings. 

Places of worship will remain open with a mandatory requirement to wear face coverings when entering and exiting.

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Gyms can remain open but for individual training only. 

No indoor sports of any kind or organised contact sport involving household mixing is allowed other than at elite level.

Irish Premiership games, inter-county GAA and Ulster rugby games can proceed and some spectators will be allowed to attend high-level sport.

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