Coronavirus: Business closures and restrictions in Northern Ireland
Measures to fight coronavirus place restrictions on businesses and services
Health protection measures to help reduce the rate of transmission of COVID-19 place restrictions on businesses and services
The current coronavirus restrictions are law through regulation, while others are guidance. Everyone is legally required to comply with the regulations. The regulations will next be reviewed on Thursday 13 May 2021.
If you fail to comply with the regulations without reasonable excuse, you are committing an offence. For some offences, you may be given a fixed penalty or a fine on summary prosecution.
Anyone who can work from home should work from home.
Those who cannot work from home, for example, workers in food production, construction, manufacturing, logistics or distribution can continue to go to work.
Employers should take every possible step to facilitate their employees working from home. They must also take all reasonable steps to safeguard the health, safety and well-being of employees during the COVID-19 emergency, whether working from home or in the workplace.
Employers that require staff to come into the workplace must complete a mandatory risk assessment.
All business and venues that are in operation should follow guidelines on working safely.
Outdoor areas at hospitality venues (cafes, restaurants, bars, pubs, social clubs, including in members’ clubs) are permitted to open.
There are no longer any additional restrictions in place on takeaway businesses.
A maximum of six people from two households can be seated together. Children aged 12 and under are not counted in the total and more than six will also be permitted if they all belong to a single household.
Apart from entering and leaving the premises, the only movement allowed indoors is to access toilet facilities, to select food from a buffet or to pay - however, social distancing must be maintained.
Venues will also be required to collect customer details to help with the Test, Trace, Protect contact tracing programme.
Customer details will include the:
- name and telephone number of each individual ove the age of 16
- date and time of arrival
The provision of food and drink in motorway services, airports and harbour terminals is allowed.
An indicative date of 24 May has been set for the reopening of indoor hospitality venues and all tourism accommodation. This will be subject to review.
Overnight stays are permitted in self-contained tourism accommodation (such as self-catering houses, caravans and motor homes). This includes any accommodation which does not require guests to share washing facilities, toilets or kitchens.
You can only share holiday accommodation with the people you live with in your household, and people in your bubble.
Hotel, guesthouses, bed and breakfast establishments and hostels are only able to operate on a restricted basis.
Accommodation can be provided for:
- those already resident
- work-related purposes
- vulnerable people
- those in emergency situations
- people unable to return to their main address
Entertainment, leisure activities and cultural attractions
Outdoor visitor attractions, activity centres, parks, play areas, outdoor areas of properties operated by the National Trust and the outdoor areas of stately homes, historic homes and castles are permitted to open.
This includes drive-in cinemas and performances. When going to these events, you must not share your vehicle with anyone outside your household or bubble.
Community halls are allowed to remain open, but must adhere to current guidelines.
Libraries are allowed to provide 'call and collect' services.
Theatres and concert halls are permitted to open for rehearsals or a live recording without an audience.
Indoor visitor and cultural attractions
Indoor leisure and entertainment venues such as theatres, concert halls, cinemas, amusement arcades, bingo halls, bowling alleys, skating rinks, inflatable parks, go-karting venues, soft play centres, indoor museums, galleries, visitor and other indoor cultural attractions are not permitted to open.
An indicative date of 24 May has been set for the reopening of indoor visitor and cultural attractions. This will be subject to review.
Close contact services
Close contact services, such as hairdressers, beauticians, make-up and nails, tattoo and piercing parlours, tanning shops, massage, electrolysis, well-being and holistic treatments, (including those provided from a mobile setting) can reopen, strictly by appointment.
Close contact businesses are required to collect customer details to help with the Test, Trace, Protect contact tracing programme.
Driving instruction, theory tests and driving tests can also resume.
All shops can reopen - find more guidance on reducing the risk of spreading COVID-19 in reopening retail businesses.
There are no longer any additional restrictions in place on alcohol sales, normal licencing laws now apply.
Work carried out in private homes and other services
Unless they are specifically required to close under the regulations, workers, builders, tradespeople and other professionals can continue to go into people’s houses to carry out work such as repairs, installations and deliveries.
Music lessons and private tutoring are permitted, as long as social distancing is maintained and there is no close contact.
Estate agents are permitted to remain open to facilitate the buying and selling of property, including associated activities such as the viewing of properties.
Household waste and recycling centres are permitted to remain open.
Equine Assisted Therapy and Learning (EATL) may resume on an indoor and outdoor basis in gatherings of up to 30 people.
Childcare can continue to be provided by a person registered in accordance with the Children (Northern Ireland) Order 1995 or any childcare provided free of charge.
Informal childcare arrangements are also permitted to continue.
Gyms, swimming pools and indoor leisure facilities may open for individual exercise and also one-to-one training/ coaching with social distancing.
Up to 10 people (including children of all ages) from a maximum of two households can take part in outdoor exercise or sports activities.
Up to 15 people (including coaches) can take part in structured outdoor sports training, through clubs or individuals affiliated to recognised sports governing bodies or representative organisations for sport and physical activity.
Outdoor sports facilities can re-open but only to permit their use for those allowed in the regulations. Club houses and indoor sports facilities (changing rooms, showers, kitchens, meeting rooms), apart from essential toilet facilities must stay closed.
Squad training is permitted as well as competitive outdoor sports.
No spectators are permitted and numbers (including officials, participants, management and support personnel) should be restricted to the minimum number required for the delivery of the event and should not exceed 100.
The return to sport protocols put in place by sports governing bodies should be strictly adhered to including hygiene measures, social distancing and other mitigations.
Any behaviour which may encourage the risk of transmission around sports activities, such as car sharing, congregation of people on the side-lines and sporting celebrations, should be avoided.
Sports governing bodies have a responsibility to ensure full compliance with the protocols and are expected to put arrangements in place to deal with non-compliant clubs, participants and coaches.
Indoor sport is not permitted, other than at elite level.
Elite training and competition can continue, both indoors and outdoors.
Elite sporting events must be held behind closed doors without spectators.
The definition of an elite athlete is set out in the regulations.
Horse racing and other recognised equine sports, can take place behind closed doors, in line with the elite sport regulations and animal welfare considerations.
An indicative date of 24 May has been set for the return of indoor group exercise and training (numbers informed by venue). This will be subject to review.
Guidance and restrictions for businesses which may open
Shops and enclosed shopping centres (see list of essential retail businesses above) must take reasonable measures to ensure compliance with social distancing rules.
These measures include:
- providing information on how to minimise the risk of exposure to and the spread of coronavirus
- ensure anyone within your venue maintains a distance of two metres from others (unless members of the same or a linked household) by altering the layout if necessary
- ensure anyone queueing to enter maintains a distance of two metres from each other (unless members of the same or a linked household)
- regularly cleaning, maintaining hygiene in your venue and regularly sanitising points of frequent use (eg entry barriers, card terminals)
Where it is not reasonably practicable for a social distance of two metres to be maintained, businesses must take reasonable steps to ensure that:
- any close face to face contact is limited between persons
- barriers or screens are installed and maintained
- personal protective equipment is used where appropriate and in such a case is made readily available
The use of face coverings is required in certain indoor settings across Northern Ireland. This includes shops, shopping centres, public, private transport services, taxis, airplanes, public transport stations and airports and banks and some government offices. Read further guidance on face coverings.
First published 24 March 2020