Most of the tightened restrictions announced by the Executive last night had been well trailed, but the net effect is to heighten the sense of crisis caused by the rapidly escalating spread of the Covid virus.
Never since the imposition of short-lived curfews during the early days of the Troubles have citizens been warned that they will have to explain themselves if they leave their homes during the current lockdown. No longer will the government's demand that people stay at home unless they have to venture out for specified reasons be merely advice but instead will carry the force of law and will come into effect on Friday.
Some people may regard the move as draconian but it is clear that appealing to the common sense of some people does not work as evidenced by the surge in new cases of the disease and its potential to overwhelm the NHS.
Overall the measures outlined last night seem reasonable given the public health situations. It can be argued that as ever they have been introduced too late - even when it was clear what the other nations of the UK were doing - but in defence of the politicians it has to be recognised that there are no rule books to refer to in this unprecedented pandemic. Policies have to change at a moment's notice given the fast changing challenges of the virus.
One group of people who have most to complain about are the parents of school going children. The children of key workers and vulnerable children will still receive face-to-face teaching but for those parents who will have to juggle home schooling with their own working from home schedules life will be hectic over the next couple of months unless there is a dramatic fall in the infection rate.
Children were also let down by the delay in announcing what would happen to transfer tests due this week and GCSE and A-Level examinations in the summer.
Pupils are under tremendous strain preparing for examinations - especially as they have been constantly playing catch-up due to repeated closures during the past 12 months - and it was wrong that again they are being subjected to last minute decision-making.
The regulations will be reviewed later this month but it is very unlikely there will be any significant easing of restrictions before mid-February or even later.
The roll out of the vaccination programme becomes more important by the day and the hope is that it progresses without a hitch.