Coronavirus (COVID-19) regulations guidance: what the restrictions mean for you

Following an increase in coronavirus (COVID-19) cases, additional restrictions have been introduced for people living in Northern Ireland.
These new restrictions have been put in place to help reduce the spread of coronavirus and to help manage the pressures on our health and social care system.
This page will be updated with detailed information as it becomes available.

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Regulations

The regulations were introduced on 16 October 2020 and will be in place for four weeks.

The regulations are available on the Department of Health website:

Some of the restrictions will be in law through regulation, while others will be in guidance. 

Everyone is legally required to comply with the regulations.

Households

Households are not allowed to mix indoors in private homes. Certain exemptions apply, including:

  • bubbling with one other household
  • childcare
  • building or maintenance work
  • the services of trades or professions (close contact services are not allowed)
  • providing care or assistance, including social services, to a vulnerable person
  • giving or receiving legal advice or assistance or fulfilling a legal obligation
  • providing emergency or medical assistance to any person
  • a house move, and to do associated activities for that purpose, including viewing properties and making arrangements for removals
  • a marriage or civil partnership where one of the couple is terminally ill

Children whose parents do not live in the same household can move between homes as normal.

Gardens

Up to six people from no more than two households can meet up outdoors in a private garden, but you should maintain social distancing. Children aged 12 and under are not counted in this total.

Household bubbles

You can form one bubble with one other household.

A bubble can be formed between two households of any size.

Indoor meetings between households in the bubble are limited to a maximum of 10 people, including children, at any one time.

To contain the risk of spreading the virus, a household cannot be part of more than one bubble. Therefore, members of the two households within a bubble will not be permitted to have close contact with visitors from a third household. They should maintain social distancing from people outside of their bubble.

If anyone within your bubble develops symptoms, all members of the bubble should self-isolate. Particular care needs to be taken if any member is regarded as a vulnerable person in terms of the virus, which may include the elderly or those with other health conditions.

If a household wishes to change the household that they bubble with, the household must wait 14 days from the last visit of the original linked household before starting a new bubble with another household.

Overnight stays

An overnight stay in a private home is not allowed unless it is a member of your bubble.

Exemptions, including for emergency reasons, are detailed in the regulations.

Indoor and outdoor gatherings (excluding private dwellings, weddings and funerals)

Up to 15 people can meet outdoors, but you should maintain social distancing by being at least two metres apart, as well as good hand and respiratory hygiene practices.

Up to 15 people can meet indoors, except in someone’s home or in a static caravan or self-catering holiday home.

You may not organise, operate or participate in an indoor or outdoor gathering which consists of more than 15 people.

The following exemptions apply:

  • a gathering in a workplace, if it is not possible to work at home
  • a gathering to provide emergency or medical assistance to any person
  • a gathering in a place of worship for a religious activity
  • elite sports

Medically-vulnerable and older people

Medically-vulnerable and older people are asked to be particularly careful in following the advice on limiting household contacts, social distancing, hand washing and wearing a face covering.

Travel

You should avoid all unnecessary travel.

Where travel is necessary for work, education and other essential purposes, people are asked to walk, cycle or use private transport, shared only with members of their household where possible.

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