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Q&A: Everything you need to know about new Covid-19 restrictions in Northern Ireland

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A number of new restrictions have been introduced in affected areas. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

A number of new restrictions have been introduced in affected areas. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

Getty Images

A number of new restrictions have been introduced in affected areas. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

First Minister, Arlene Foster and the Deputy First Minister, Michelle O'Neill have announced new restrictions and localised lockdowns in Northern Ireland.

Here's everything you need to know:

Areas with local restrictions

Additional restrictions have been introduced for people living in the following areas:

  • Belfast City Council area
  • Postcode area BT28
  • Postcode area BT29
  • Ballymena
  • Postcode area BT43

The restrictions will be introduced in the week beginning 14 September 2020 and will be subject to weekly monitoring and review.

What do these new restrictions mean?

If you live in the affected areas:

  • You should not mix with other households, unless they’re in your support bubble. A support bubble is where a household with one adult joins with another household
  • You should allow no more than six people in your garden, from no more than two households

You can:

  • Fulfill caring responsibilities, including childcare
  • Travel in and out of the affected area, for example to go to work, but it is recommended that you should avoid unnecessary travel
  • Attend a hospital appointment, dental services, opticians, audiology services, chiropody, chiropractors, osteopaths and other medical or health services
  • Fulfill any legal obligations
  • Children whose parents do not live in the same household can move between homes

Care home and hospital visits

Care homes and hospitals in affected areas will be advised to significantly curtail visits as soon as practicable.

One member of a family will be permitted a visit once a week while these localised restrictions apply.

More frequent visits may be permitted in exceptional circumstances, including palliative care facilities and those receiving end of life care.

Medically-vulnerable and older people

Medically vulnerable and older people living in affected areas should be particularly careful in following the advice on limiting household contacts, social distancing, hand washing and wearing a face covering, given the local levels of Covid-19.

Schools and education

Schools and early learning/childcare settings are not affected by these measures.

Places of worship, marriages, civil partnerships and funerals

No changes have been made to the operation of places of worship.

Marriages and civil partnerships can continue to take place, in line with the current restrictions. A marriage or civil partnership where one partner is terminally ill can take place in a private dwelling in an affected area.

You can attend a funeral within an affected area, subject to existing funeral guidance.

Work and services carried out in private homes

Workers and builders can continue to go into other people’s houses to carry out work such as repairs, installations and deliveries.

Professionals who offer services from their own home can continue to carry out their work with appropriate safety measures in place.

Any visits should be risk-assessed and in line with relevant guidance.

I live in one of these affected areas, am I effectively in lockdown?

No, this is not a lockdown. The new restrictions are focused on reducing contacts between people in household settings.

So can people leave a restricted area – or travel into one – for work, to go shopping, eat in a restaurant etc?

Yes. This will still be permitted under the new regulations. If you have to travel for work purposes into or out of these areas, then do so. Likewise, businesses in these areas are still open for business.

So I can meet people in a pub or restaurant but not in my own home?

The restrictions are about reducing interactions between people. Reducing household contacts is viewed by the Executive as the most effective way to achieve that at this time.

Hospitality businesses will continue to be subject to strict guidance, regulation and appropriate enforcement where necessary.

Further restrictions

Postcode areas may be added and removed from the local restrictions as the patterns of infection change, and further interventions and restrictions could be added as necessary.

Belfast Telegraph