Northern Ireland will begin another circuit-break lockdown on November 27, just one week after their lockdown eased on November 20.
The lockdown, which was announced by ministers on Thursday, November 19, will see the closure of all non-essential retail, restaurants, close-contact services and places of worship, except for small weddings and funerals. Schools will remain open.
This news comes as the Prime Minister is preparing to announce a UK-wide relaxation of rules from December 22 to 28, allowing several families to join in one “bubble”.
Ministers in Northern Ireland had already extended its original circuit-break lockdown until today, November 20. The plan was to follow this was a partial lockdown until November 27. Another circuit-break lockdown will now resume on this date.
Though businesses such as hairdressers and cafes will be allowed to reopen from today, they will only operate for the next week before the latest measures will force them to close once again.
Health Minister, Robin Swann, had told ministers that if no new measures were introduced by the end of November, even a full lockdown in mid-December would not be enough to prevent the health service being swamped by Covid-19 cases, PA News Agency reported.
The DUP, who stringently opposed his calls last week to extend Northern Ireland’s circuit-breaker lockdown by two weeks, have shown signs of shifting position on the new restrictions.
On the morning of Thursday, November 19, the same day the lockdown was announced, several senior DUP members highlighted that the medical and scientific evidence had changed from last week, with the infection rate (the R number) having increased from 0.7 to 1.
DUP MP Gavin Robinson insisted the party had not performed a U-turn.
“You have to operate on the basis of the information that is available to you at any one time,” he told BBC Radio Ulster.
It took four days for Stormont ministers to agree the extension because the parties in the power-sharing administration were divided over whether to give primacy to medical advice, to keep hospitality closed to hamper the spread of the coronavirus or to reopen part of the economy to save livelihoods.