People living in the Belfast City Council area have been advised against making non-essential journeys.
Yesterday, in their first joint press conference in two months, the First and Deputy First Ministers announced several new restrictions to combat Covid-19, affecting Belfast, parts of Lisburn, Glenavy and Ballymena.
The whole of the Belfast City Council area has been included because of the level of population movement across the city.
The restrictions include:
No mixing of households in private dwellings, with exemptions for: bubbling with one other household; caring responsibilities including childcare; essential maintenance, supported living arrangements; visits required for legal or medical purposes; or marriage or civil partnerships where one partner is terminally ill;
No more than six people to gather in a private garden from no more than two households;
Anyone living in these areas is asked to avoid unnecessary travel outside the restricted areas;
Care homes and hospitals in these 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 living in these areas are asked to 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.
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South Belfast MP Claire Hanna called for more clarity saying the message came out “a little bit confused”.
Speaking about the new regulations, she said: "It's important that we refine them and that all the information is available so that people know whether or not they can go in and out of work and the support packages that are going to be there because this will still affect some businesses," she said.
Speaking during the press conference, First Minister Arlene Foster said: “I recognise the anxiety these measures may cause in the affected districts. We will work closely with our local government partners to ensure these areas get all the support they need to get their Covid rates down and the restrictions lifted.”
Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill said: “I would assure everyone living in the districts affected by restrictions that we have thought long and hard before taking this decision."
Anyone living in the areas is asked to follow the restrictions with immediate effect. The localised restrictions will be in place for a minimum of two weeks, after which they will be reviewed.
The Executive has also set an indicative date of September 21 for the opening of pubs that don't sell food, providing circumstances permit and with strict adherence to guidance, regulation and appropriate enforcement.