SHARE

Tougher coronavirus restrictions are being extended to the whole of Northern Ireland, First Minister Arlene Foster has announced.

From 6pm tomorrow, different households will not be allowed to mix indoors, except for single-person household bubbles and certain other exemptions.

No more than six people from two households can meet in private gardens, however pubs that only serve drinks are still expected to open on Wednesday.

Image: Households will not be able to mix indoors

The ban on mixing indoors initially applied to some areas including greater Belfast, Ballymena and parts of County Armagh, but is now being extended nationwide.

Exemptions on households being able to mix include childcare, supported living arrangements, visits for legal or medical reasons, or marriage or civil partnerships where one partner is terminally ill.

Advertisement

Mrs Foster sought to reassure the public the measures were not a return to lockdown.

"Doing nothing was not an option but neither is returning to full lockdown," she said.

More from Northern Ireland

"These are limited restrictions which I hope by taking action at this early stage means we can prevent the need for more draconian measures."

Nearly 400 new cases were reported in the last 48 hours and "substantial" increases have happened across Northern Ireland, Mrs Foster said.

:: Subscribe to the Daily podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Spreaker

Between 2% and 4% of coronavirus tests are now positive, showing more transmission in the community, chief scientific adviser Professor Ian Young said.

The reproductive rate of the virus – which measures how many people a coronavirus patient will infect – has risen to 1.4, and in some districts would be about two.

The rising infections in Northern Ireland come as the UK's chief medical offRead More – Source