Northern Ireland lockdown rules: 4 week circuit breaker to see pubs, restaurants and schools close - what it means for Scottish travel
Intensified Covid-19 restrictions are to be enforced in Northern Ireland, which will see the closure of schools, pubs and restaurants.
First Minister Arlene Foster announced the restrictions at a special sitting of the Assembly on Wednesday 14 October, with the circuit breaker lockdown to remain in place for four weeks.
What are the new rules?
The strict new lockdown will see pubs and restaurants close for a period of four weeks - with the exception of takeaways and home deliveries. Schools will be closed from Monday 19 October for two weeks - one of which will cover the holiday break.
The measures do not amount to a full scale lockdown, similar to the one imposed back in March, but instead mark a significant tightening of the government’s response to spiralling Covid-19 infection rates.
Retail outlets will be allowed to remain open, along with gyms for individual training. However, indoor sporting activities are not permitted, and outdoor contact sports will be limited to elite athletes only.
Churches can also stay open, with a 25 person limit to be placed on funerals and weddings. Wedding receptions are prohibited.
Members of the public are advised to work from home where possible, and no unnecessary travel should be taken.
In addition to the closing of pubs and restaurants, off licences will be required to shut at 8pm.
Current restrictions on household mixing will remain in place, meaning the mixing of households in private homes is not allowed, with exceptions for those joined in social bubbles. Gatherings in private gardens are still limited to six people from no more than two households.
The majority of the new measures will come into force on Friday 16 October, while schools will close on Monday 19 October.
Why is lockdown being tightened?
The tougher restrictions come as First Minister Foster described the rising Covid-19 rates in Northern Ireland as of “grave concern”, and said such a decision was necessary to bring transmission rates down.
However, she insisted that the restrictions would not last any longer than four weeks.
Mrs Foster added that she hoped the new measures would have two impacts.
“First, on the Covid transmission rates which must be turned down now, or we will be in a very difficult place very soon indeed,” she said.
“Second, we believe it marks a point where everyone, each and every one of us, can take stock and go back to the social distancing messaging. That is vitally important.”
What does it mean for travel from Scotland?
There are currently no rules against travelling to Northern Ireland from Scotland.
Government guidance states that travellers who arrive in Northern Ireland from a country outside of the Common Travel Area must self-isolate for 14 days, unless they have travelled from a country exempt from quarantine restrictions.
The Common Travel Area includes the following places, and only applies if you were there for 14 days or more before arriving in Northern Ireland:
- England, Scotland and Wales
- Republic of Ireland
- Channel Islands
- Isle of Man