COVID-19 information and advice

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Information and advice 

Members of the public should keep checking our website for the latest updates on services and facilities at this time along with our Facebook and Twitter channels.

For further information and guidance about coronavirus go to the Public Health Agency or NI Direct.


Additional restrictions from November 27th 2020

New restrictions have been agreed to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 within the community.

The single most important action we can all take to fight coronavirus, to save lives, and to help our Health and Social Care system cope with current pressures is to stay at home.

There should be no household gatherings, other than those involving support bubbles.

You should work from home if at all possible. Only leave for essential purposes such as education, healthcare needs, to care for others, or outdoor exercise.

When we reduce our day-to-day contact with other people, we reduce the spread of the infection.

That is why the following restrictions will apply from 27 November 2020, for two weeks.

Households

Households are not allowed to mix indoors in private homes. Certain exemptions apply, including:

  • bubbling with one other household
  • childcare
  • building or maintenance work
  • the services of trades or professions (close contact services are not allowed)
  • providing care or assistance, including social services, to a vulnerable person
  • giving or receiving legal advice or assistance, or fulfilling a legal obligation
  • providing emergency or medical assistance to any person
  • a house move, and to do associated activities for that purpose, including viewing properties and making arrangements for removals
  • a marriage or civil partnership where one of the couple is terminally ill

Children whose parents do not live in the same household can move between homes as normal.

Gardens

Up to six people from no more than two households can meet up outdoors in a private garden, but you should maintain social distancing.

Children aged 12 and under are not counted in this total.

Bubbles

You can form one bubble with one other household.

A bubble can be formed between two households of any size.

Indoor meetings between households in the bubble are limited to a maximum of 10 people, including children, at any one time.

Overnight stays

An overnight stay in a private home is not allowed unless it is a member of your bubble.

Exemptions, including for emergency reasons, are detailed in the regulations.

Childcare

Childcare can continue to be provided by a person registered in accordance with the Children (Northern Ireland) Order 1995 or any childcare provided free of charge. 

Informal childcare arrangements are also permitted to continue.

Education settings

Schools and other education settings will remain open.

Further and Higher Education institutions should deliver distance learning to the maximum extent possible.

Only essential face-to-face learning should take place when it is a necessary and unavoidable part of the course.

Businesses and venues

To reduce social contact, the regulations require some businesses to close and impose restrictions on how some businesses provide goods and services. These include:

Retail

Closure of all retail except for essential retail. Click and collect facilities will be permitted to operate on an appointment-only basis with maximum mitigations in place.

Close contact services

Close contact services, such as hairdressers, beauticians, make-up and nails, tattoo and piercing parlours, tanning shops, massage, electrolysis, well-being and holistic treatments, and driving instructors are not permitted to operate.

This also applies to those who provide mobile close contact services from their homes and in other people’s homes, those in retail environments, as well as those studying hair and beauty in vocational training environments.

Exemptions apply for film and TV production; those ancillary to medical, health and social care services; and elite-sports therapeutic services. 

Hospitality

Hospitality venues such as cafes, restaurants, pubs, bars and social clubs must remain closed; with the exception of providing food and drink for takeaway, drive-through or delivery.

Businesses providing takeaway services must close at 11.00 pm and off-sales must stop at 8.00 pm.

Food in motorway services, airports and harbour terminals are exempt.

Accommodation

Hotels, guesthouses, bed and breakfast establishments, hostels and caravan and self-catering accommodation sites will only be able to operate on a restricted basis.

Accommodation can be provided for those already resident; for work-related purposes; for vulnerable people; for those in emergency situations; and people unable to return to their main address.

Sport

Indoor and outdoor sport is not permitted, other than at elite level.

Elite sporting events must be held behind closed doors without spectators.

All sports facilities such as leisure centres and gyms, swimming pools, tennis courts, golf courses, fitness and dance studios must close.

Individual/ household outdoor exercise and school PE can continue. Physical activities, such as walking, running, cycling, horse riding, or just walking the dog, bring many health benefits. 

Leisure and entertainment

Leisure and entertainment venues such as theatres, concert halls, cinemas, amusement arcades, bingo halls, bowling alleys, skating rinks, inflatable parks, go-karting venues, soft play centres, fairgrounds and funfairs, indoor museums, galleries, visitor and other cultural attractions are not permitted to open.

Outdoor visitor attractions will also be closed for the duration of the two-week period.

Outdoor parks and play areas are permitted to remain open.

Places of worship

Places of worship must close, except for funerals and weddings (limited to 25 people). They may open for individual acts of worship or to broadcast an act of worship. Drive-in services will also be permitted for the two-week period.

Businesses permitted to open

The following businesses or services are permitted to stay open:

  • food retailers, including food markets, supermarkets, convenience stores and corner shops
  • off licences and licensed shops selling alcohol (including breweries)
  • pharmacies (including non-dispensing pharmacies) and chemists
  • newsagents
  • homeware, building supplies and hardware stores
  • petrol stations
  • motor vehicle repair and MOT services
  • bicycle shops
  • taxi or vehicle hire businesses
  • banks, building societies, credit unions, short-term loan providers and cash points savings clubs and undertakings which by way of business operate currency exchange offices, transmit money (or any representation of money) by any means or cash cheques which are made payable to customers
  • post offices
  • funeral directors
  • laundrettes and dry cleaners
  • dental services, opticians, audiology services, podiatry, chiropractors, osteopaths and other medical or health services, including services relating to mental health
  • veterinary surgeons and pet shops
  • agricultural supplies shops
  • storage and distribution facilities, including delivery drop off or collection points, where the facilities are in the premises of a business included in this list
  • car parks
  • public toilets
  • garden centres and ornamental plant nurseries (but not cafes or restaurants in such premises)
  • livestock markets 

Marriage and Civil Partnerships

Please be aware that your marriage/civil partnership ceremony must be conducted under the current NI Executive restrictions.

No marriage or civil partnership can take place at any venue that is licensed to sell alcohol, provides accommodation or is currently prevented from opening under the current restrictions. Venues prevented from opening include hotels, restaurants, cafes, social clubs, bed & breakfast establishments, theatres, concert halls, museums, galleries, visitor and other cultural attractions and outdoor visitor attractions.

A marriage or civil partnership occurring at a permitted location such as a place of worship or registration office is limited to 25 people, this includes the couple, witnesses, officiant and all guests (including children under 12).

No mixing of households is permitted at a private dwelling therefore it will not be possible for a ceremony to be held indoors as the registrar/officiant would not be permitted to enter the premises.

Outdoor gatherings at a private dwelling (including the garden of the dwelling) is restricted to six people from two different households. Children aged 12 and under from those two households are discounted from this total. If all other participants at the ceremony are not from the same household the ceremony cannot proceed as the registrar/officiant can be the only person from a separate household.

Can take place in a person’s home if one of the parties is terminally ill with up to10 people in attendance (this includes the couple, two witnesses and the officiant).