Schools to close and tight new hospitality rules in Northern Ireland

Schools will close from Monday and pubs and restaurants face new restrictions from Friday, in a bid to stem cases of Covid-19, First Minister Arlene Foster has said.

The moves are among new restrictions being imposed by the executive.

Hospitality businesses will be limited to takeaway and delivery services for four weeks from Friday.

Health officials had warned infections would rise further if both schools and hospitality premises remained open.

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The executive has agreed schools will close for two weeks, including the half-term holiday, until Monday 2 November, when their closure will be reviewed.

Mrs Foster is outlining the changes in a statement to assembly members, which began at 10:30.

Further guidance is being issued advising against unnecessary travel.

Where are the current hotspots?

There are several local hotspots in the UK where cases have spiked in recent weeks.

The orange areas on the map below are those currently seeing the highest number of cases per 100,000 people.

Talks ran into the early hours of Wednesday as ministers tried to reach a compromise on a range of decisions, finally agreeing to impose the following measures for four weeks from Friday:

  • Closure of the hospitality sector, apart from deliveries and takeaways

  • Other fast-food and takeaway premises to close at 23:00

  • Off-licences and supermarkets not to sell alcohol after 20:00

  • No indoor sport or organised contact sport involving mixing of households, other than at elite level

  • No mass events involving more than 15 people (except for allowed outdoor sporting events where the relevant number for that will continue to apply);

  • Close-contact services such as hairdressers and beauticians to close - apart from those relating to the continuation of essential health interventions and therapeutics. 

  • Mobile hairdressers and make-up artists - also classed as close contact services - prohibited from working in homes

  • Gyms to remain open for individual training but no classes permitted

  • Places of worship to remain open but face coverings mandatory when entering and exiting

The current restrictions on household mixing are expected to remain as they are.

That would mean no mixing of households in private homes - with exceptions including those joined in social bubbles - and gatherings in gardens limited to six people from no more than two households.

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