Circuit breaker lockdown: N. Ireland to have 4 WEEKS of restrictions with schools, pubs & restaurants closed from Friday

NORTHERN Ireland will be to plunged into a four-week circuit breaker lockdown with schools, pubs and restaurants all to close from Friday.

Schools will close for half of the four-week period while restaurants and bars will only be able to offer takeaways.

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It is understood retail outlets will remain open, as will churches and gyms for individual training.

It comes as Boris Johnson faces increasing pressure to introduce a similar lockdown in England to stop the spread of coronavirus.

A formal announcement is expected to be made during a special sitting of the Assembly in Belfast later today.

Restrictions on household mixing are expected to remain as they are, but no 'tier' system is in place like in England.

No mixing of households in private dwellings, with exceptions including those joined in social bubbles, is currently allowed.

Gatherings in the gardens of private dwellings limited to six people from no more than two households.

It is anticipated that closures of hospitality outlets will come into force on Friday.

The other measures would be rolled out from Monday.

After the late night executive meeting concluded, deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill tweeted: "The Exec has given painstaking consideration to next steps.

"We know this is hard and that people will be worried about their livelihoods, but we will do everything we possibly can to make sure there are protections in place for businesses, workers and families."

The Derry and Strabane Council area has been experiencing the highest infection rate in the UK and Ireland, with a seven day average of 970 cases per 100,000 people.

A further seven deaths with Covid-19 and another 863 cases were reported by the Department of Health on Tuesday.

Some 6,286 new positive cases of the virus have been detected in the last seven days, bringing the total number of cases in the region to 21,898.

As of Tuesday, there were 150 patients in hospitals with Covid-19, including 23 in intensive care.

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