The Stormont Executive has agreed to increase the levels of fines for those caught breaching coronavirus regulations and extend the range of settings where wearing a face mask is compulsory in Northern Ireland.
It comes in light of what the First Minister Arlene Foster described as a "grave situation" as cases of Covid-19 continue to rise across Northern Ireland.
"We are seeing a progressive rise in hospital admissions and these are expected to exceed those of the first wave before this month is finished", Mrs Foster said during a Stormont press conference.
The Executive has now decided face masks will be made mandatory while boarding a plane, in taxis and private buses, while visiting government offices such as benefits offices, in banks, building societies and credit unions, and for both driving instructors and their clients.
It's in addition to public transport, and retail and hospitality settings where masks are already mandatory.
A new regime of penalties is also being introduced, including the increase of a current minimum £60 fixed penalty notice to £200. Three other offences will be punishable on conviction by a fine of up to £10,000 or attract a fixed penalty of £1,000 then laddering up to £10,000, the DUP leader said.
The offences are not closing a business as required, breaching early closing requirements and not implementing social distancing, she said.
A specific offence around organising a large gathering is being given further consideration, she added.
Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill said the Executive is fast approaching "a point of decision" on what their next move will be.
"These will be significant decisions that will no doubt impact on the lives of people," she said, adding it's crucial Westminster brings forward further financial support.
It comes as the death of one further person over the past 24 hours in Northern Ireland after testing positive for coronavirus was confirmed, while 923 new cases of the virus have been reported.
This brings the death toll in the region to 587 and the total number of confirmed cases since the start of the outbreak to 17,110. Some 4,674 people have tested positive in the last seven days.
The fatality was a woman aged over 80 who died in a hospital in the Derry City and Strabane area on Wednesday.
There are currently 120 Covid patients in hospitals across Northern Ireland, with 15 patients in intensive care.
A total of 35 care homes are dealing with outbreaks of the virus.
Here's how Thursday unfolded:
With an announcement expected on Thursday that Covid-19 restrictions could be further tightened in Northern Ireland, the Belfast Telegraph takes a look at five key areas the Executive will have to consider.