Schools in Northern Ireland will close for two weeks from Friday under a new “circuit breaker” lockdown to be announced by First Minister Arlene Foster today.

The closure of schools is part of a range of new restrictions that the Northern Irish Government is introducing:

People in Northern Ireland are to be instructed to work from home unless that is impossible; All pubs and restaurants will close, except for take-away food; all indoor sports are banned, and all mass gatherings above 15 people will come to an end.

Northern Ireland is one of the worst afflicted areas in Europe for the Coronavirus, at present.

In a joint statement with Sinn Fein’s Deputy First Minister, Michele O’Neill, Ms. Foster will urge people to makes sure that children and young people “limit socialising as much as possible”:

“We are asking all children and young people, and their parents to help us in a very particular way during the next few weeks. Please make sure that children and young people follow the social distancing arrangements during this time, limit socialising as much as possible, and use the time in positive ways.

We will need to exit these arrangements most carefully. They will be put in place during Friday of this week and will be there for 4 weeks. Any extension or amendment to them will require a decision by the Executive.”

The measures are broadly similar to the “level three” restrictions currently in place in the Republic. However, and notably, Northern Ireland is moving to close schools for an extended period of time, a measure that is being fiercely resisted by politicians in the Republic.

There were over 800 new cases of Coronavirus reported in the Republic yesterday.