On Friday, two weeks of new coronavirus restrictions will come into force that will see the closure of bars, restaurants, gyms, hairdressers and non-essential retail.
The Northern Ireland Executive came to the decision the day before restrictions were to be partially eased for hospitality and close contact businesses.
Until Friday, November 27, these businesses will be able to reopen for a week with certain measures in place such as a ban on the sale of alcohol and hairdressers working by appointment only.
Spectators will also be banned from elite sporting events.
However schools and childcare facilities will remain open.
First Minister Arlene Foster said the decision was made as the R-rate has not dropped as far as had been estimated.
She added: “The Executive has taken the decision to put in place a short, sharp circuit-breaker from Friday, November 27 to reset and drive down infection rates right across Northern Ireland.
“This is not the position we had hoped to be in as the current phase of restrictions comes towards an end. The R-rate has unfortunately not dropped as far, or for as long, as had been estimated. We have taken some time today to look at the reasons for this. Sadly it is clear that a careless minority have significantly undermined the sacrifices of the many.”
Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said: “We know this will be difficult for people to hear, but this is a necessary intervention to protect our health service. And it will give us the best possible chance of getting to the other side of the Christmas period. Our actions as we approach Christmas are crucial.”
Below is a timeline of the events so far and what we can expect in the future:
Timeline of NI’s new coronavirus restrictions
Friday, October 16 – Circuit breaker lockdown starts
The start of a four week circuit breaker lockdown begins in an effort to curb rise of Covid-19 cases.
This sees the close of hospitality and close contact services and schools for two weeks – which included the half-term holiday.
Monday, November 2 – Schools reopen
Schools reopen two weeks into the circuit breaker
Thursday, November 5 – Executive meets to discuss restrictions
Health Minister Robin Swann recommends further restrictions to the Executive ahead of the circuit-breaker ending the following week.
Nothing is agreed and the meeting is adjourned.
Friday, November 6 – Executive meeting continues
The Executive meets again to discuss restrictions but a decision is still not reached
Monday, November 9 – Meetings continue
The Executive continues to meet to discuss the restrictions. New scientific evidence is requested by ministers
Tuesday, November 10 – Meetings continue
The Executive is still unable to come to an agreement on restrictions
Wednesday, November 11 – Meetings continue
Another day of meetings fails to deliver agreement
Thursday, November 12 – Agreement reached
After four days of talks the Executive reaches an agreement that will see the lockdown extended for a week until November 20 for close-contact services and premises that don’t service alcohol.
Hospitality told it could reopen on November 27
Wednesday, November 18 – New restrictions recommended
The Health Minister Robin Swann says he is going to recommend new restrictions to the Executive at its meeting on Thursday
Thursday, November 19 – Executive confirms new restrictions
The Executive confirms new restrictions will be imposed on Friday, November 27. This will see the closure of hospitality and close contact business, along with non-essential retail, leisure facilities, gyms and places of worship
Friday, November 20 – Partial relaxing of restrictions
Hospitality premises and close contact services are allowed to reopen.
Hospitality businesses are not allowed to sell alcohol and close at 8pm, but can continue operating for a week.
Close-contact services must operate by appointment only
Friday November 27 – Two week lockdown begins
A strict two week circuit breaker lockdown will come into force, closing hospitality and close contact business, along with non-essential retail, leisure facilities, gyms and places of worship
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