Publishedduration3 minutes agoRelated Topics

  • Coronavirus pandemic

image copyrightPacemakerimage captionClose contact services and coffee shops that are due to reopen on Friday can still do so – but only for one week

Northern Ireland is set to face a two-week period of tougher Covid-19 lockdown measures from next Friday, BBC News NI understands.

Non-essential retail will have to shut, and the hospitality sector will have to remain closed.

The measures were agreed by the executive on Thursday. Schools will be allowed to stay open.

Close contact services can reopen this Friday, but will have to close again on 27 November.

The executive met on Thursday after Health Minister Robin Swann warned more restrictions were necessary by the end of November.

He said otherwise, a full lockdown in mid-December would not be enough to prevent hospitals from becoming overwhelmed.

The measures agreed by ministers are extensive and are believed to include:

  • Closure of all non-essential retail
  • Closure of close contact services such as hair and beauty salons and driving instructors; exemptions for those in film and TV production, those involved in health and social care services and elite sport services
  • Hospitality will only be permitted to offer takeaway services – food and drink in motorway services, airports and harbour terminals remain open
  • Closure of all leisure and entertainment to include soft play areas, gyms and swimming pools
  • Sporting events only permitted at elite level and to be played without spectators
  • Closure of places of worship with exceptions for weddings, civil partnerships and funerals – the maximum number present will remain at 25

It is understood that close contact services and coffee shops that are due to reopen on Friday can still do so – but only for one week.

If they do not want to, it's believed they will be able to access financial support for staying closed.

The executive is set to develop more financial support packages in the next few days.