People who have received the Covid-19 vaccine must still adhere to the strict lockdown rules, Northern Ireland's top doctor has said.
In a stark warning against complacency, Dr Michael McBride, the chief medical officer, said: "Please do not assume it's party time, it's not.
"We will get through this, but we will only get through this if we stick to the measures and the advice."
Dr McBride said everyone should continue to follow the public health guidelines, even if they have been vaccinated, because there is no evidence to prove people who have had the jab cannot pass the virus on to others.
And he has poured cold water on hopes that the lockdown in Northern Ireland will be lifted on February 6.
Last week, the Executive announced a number of additional measures in a bid to ease the pressure on Northern Ireland's health service.
These included the extension of remote learning until the mid-term break in February, enhanced measures to limit contacts between individuals in domestic settings, and preventing people from leaving home without a reasonable excuse.
At the time, the Executive said the restrictions "will be in place until February 6 and will be reviewed on January 21".
Speaking at a briefing yesterday, Dr McBride said he expects Northern Ireland will be "in a different place" by Easter, but he described expectations that restrictions will be lifted on February 6 as "optimistic in the extreme".
However, Dr McBride said the lockdown is beginning to have an effect on newly diagnosed case numbers, but he also warned it may be necessary to impose some restrictions next winter.
"Many of the things that we're currently having to do, we will continue to have to do for quite some considerable time and most probably into next winter," he said.
Asked to expand further, Dr McBride said it is not possible to predict exactly what restrictions will be in place, but added: "As we head into winter… I think there is no doubt that we will probably need to look at putting some measures in place which do restrict movement and do restrict gatherings as a precaution."
Northern Ireland's chief scientific adviser, Professor Ian Young, was also present at the briefing and said he is confident there will be sufficient intensive care capacity for critically ill patients in the coming weeks.
He was responding to comments made by an ICU nurse who has warned doctors will have to withdraw care from patients to make way for people who have a better chance of survival. Prof Young said: "The modelling suggests the numbers of patients requiring critical care are likely to be greater than either in the first or second wave.
"But I know that a huge amount of planning has gone into ensuring that there is sufficient surge capacity within the system to allow everyone who needs management in critical care will receive it."
Meanwhile, bosses at the Western Trust yesterday revealed that they may have to cancel cancer operations in a matter of days due to demands on the service as a result of the current surge.