New NI regulations: ‘No one can leave their home without a reasonable excuse’

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Regulations are to be introduced so that “no one can leave their home without a reasonable excuse” and the PSNI will have the enforcement powers to order individuals home “if engaging in prohibited activity, or if they are intending to do so”, the NI Executive has confirmed.

In a statement following discussions which ended last night, the Executive said the new crackdown on movement would be similar to the first lockdown back in March 2020.

The Executive last tonight agreed a package of additional restrictions to help tackle the high levels of Covid-19 transmission in the community.

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Ministers will today (Wednesday) update the Assembly’s Ad Hoc Committee on the detail of decisions reached, which cover schools and the extension of remote learning until the mid-term break in February.

First Minister Arlene Foster and deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill pictured previously.First Minister Arlene Foster and deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill pictured previously.
First Minister Arlene Foster and deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill pictured previously.

It also covers enhanced measures to limit contacts between individuals in domestic settings; and preventing people from leaving home without a reasonable excuse.

Amongst the additional restrictions agreed last tonight are:

*Private garden gatherings - maximum of six people from one household or support bubble only, with children under 12 counting towards the permitted total.

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*Gatherings reduced to maximum of six people from two households. Children under 12 are now counted towards the permitted total.

*Outdoor exercise permitted with one person from another household - to allow, for example, those living alone to go for a walk with a friend.

These restrictions, which will be put into regulations, will be introduced from midnight on Thursday but the Executive has asked the public to act as if they are already in place.

The new restrictions will be in place until February 6 and will be reviewed on January 21.

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The Executive also agreed that Junior Ministers will meet with the Faith Leaders’ Forum as soon as possible to discuss the option of all services moving online until February 6.

Regulations will be introduced so that no one can leave their home without a reasonable excuse and the PSNI will have the enforcement powers to order individuals home if engaging in prohibited activity, or if they are intending to do so.

This will be similar to legislation in place during the first lockdown, with exemptions adapted to take account of those activities currently not permitted under the current restrictions. The full list of exemptions will be detailed in the regulations, which are currently being drafted.

The Executive also agreed to proposals from the Education Minister on schools and the Department of Education has set out the details of these proposals.