The coronavirus rollercoaster is nothing if not unpredictable. With Northern Ireland due to enter tougher lockdown restrictions from Friday 27 November, we are here to help you make sense of the facts. Let’s take a look at what the new measures mean for you if you live in Northern Ireland.
What are the new Northern Ireland lockdown measures?
From Friday 27 November, Northern Ireland will enter a two-week lockdown period. This will result in the closure of non-essential retail businesses and the hospitality sector.
What are the key closures?
- All non-essential retail – This means that shops such as clothing and electronics stores, vehicle showrooms and travel agents will close.
- Close contact services – Close contact services such as hairdressers, barbers, beauticians, tattooists and sports and massage therapists will close. Basically, any services that involve people being close to you will cease.
- All leisure and entertainment venues – Places such as gyms and swimming pools will close.
- Places of worship – All places of worship will close, except when used for weddings and funerals, though gatherings are limited to 25 people.
What will remain open?
- Schools – Schools and childcare settings will remain open during the two-week Northern Ireland lockdown.
- Hospitality can offer takeaways – Restaurants, cafes and pubs are able to offer takeaway services.
- Off licences – Off licences are set to remain open but will have to close by 8pm.
Households will not be able to mix unless they are in an existing bubble. However, if you are undertaking a house move or caring for someone, you will be exempt.
Why are there new lockdown measures?
Northern Ireland already had restrictions in place, so why the further lockdown measures?
Health officials have been advising that further restrictions would need to come into effect in order to minimise the impact of Christmas.
Existing restrictions ended on Friday 20 November. However, First Minister Arlene Foster said the country was not in the position it had hoped to be in. The R-number (the transmission level) has reportedly settled around one, but hospital inpatient numbers are still very high.
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Businesses such as close contact services and cafes are still allowed to reopen on Friday 20 November. However, they can only do so for one week before the new lockdown measures come into effect.
The executive has said that any businesses not wishing to reopen would be able to access financial support.
What can I do to protect my finances during lockdown?
Take a look at the Northern Ireland Direct government services website. Here you will be able to find information regarding financial support packages available during the pandemic.
Finally, if your income hasn’t been affected by the Northern Ireland lockdown, now may be the time for saving for the future. As it’s likely you’ll be spending less on socialising during this time, you might consider starting with an easy access savings account to build up an emergency fund.
Or, if you are looking for bigger returns and are happy to deal with a certain level of risk, consider opening a stocks and shares ISA.
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