Under the new restrictions, restaurants and bars will only be able to operate as a takeaway and delivery service, with the legislation coming into effect at one minute past midnight.
The Health Minister stated that the government introduced these measures with a “heavy heart” and the restrictions would be “subject to review” after four weeks.
Northern Ireland is the latest British state to reintroduce Covid-19 restrictions. On Wednesday (16 December) Wales announced that all hospitality businesses will close from 6pm on Christmas Day, to prevent strain on the NHS.
Robin Swann, Health Minister, NI said: “The evidence before us was clear that decisive intervention was required to prevent the growing tide of Covid-19 cases overwhelming our health service, with catastrophic consequences.
“Many parts of Europe have introduced significant restrictions for the same reason. Those railing against these measures are noticeably much quieter when it comes to suggesting feasible alternatives.”
She added: “I would appeal to everyone to unite behind these restrictions so that we can derive the maximum benefit in terms of driving down infection levels. We must all play our part and keep following public health advice on keeping ourselves and others safe.
“We are in large part returning to the sustained lockdown introduced in March. Once again, a heavy responsibility will rest on all of us to remain at home as much as possible over the course of the six-week period”