Some Covid-19 restrictions in Northern Ireland ‘likely to remain’ for next year

North records 275 more confirmed Covid-19 cases with 579 in hospitals

Some coronavirus restrictions are likely to remain in place for the next year, the North’s Chief Medical Officer has warned.

"I think we need to be realistic that the current restrictions that we have in place are likely to be in place for a significant part of this year, to a greater or lesser extent, and perhaps into early next year," Dr Michael McBride told reporters at a Department of Health briefing on Tuesday.

However he also said he hoped that “this summer will be a little bit like last summer, hopefully we will be able to do some of the things ... that we were able to do last summer.”

Full lifting of restrictions, he said, would require the vaccination of about 70 to 80 per cent of the population. So far 345,000 doses of the vaccine have been administered in the North, including 317,000 first doses. This represents approximately 22 per cent of the adult population.


Ten more people with coronavirus have died in Northern Ireland and a further 275 tested positive for the virus, the North's Department of Health reported on Tuesday. It brings the death toll recorded by the Department to 1,953.

Dr McBride also warned that joint working and the sharing of data and traveller information between Ireland and Britain was “crucially important” in preventing the spread of new variants of coronavirus from abroad, the North’s Chief Medical Officer has warned.

“There is little point in closing off international travel and putting arrangements in place to prevent introduction of variants into one part of these islands if it’s not on all parts of these islands,” Dr Michael McBride told The Irish Times.

Quarantine hotel

Under new rules announced by the UK government on Tuesday, anyone resident in Britain or Ireland who arrives at an English port or airport within 10 days of visiting a coronavirus hotspot will have to pay £1,750 (€1,990) for a compulsory, 10-day stay at a quarantine hotel.

Dr McBride said it was his understanding that flights were arriving into the airports in the Republic of Ireland which were on the “red list” currently banned from the UK.

However he said there had been “active engagement” on this between the four UK nations, the British government and Irish government representatives.

“Clearly on these two islands we have a shared responsibility and there is mutual benefit in ensuring that we delay the arrival of new variants onto these islands,” he said.

In the North, Dr McBride said, the Executive had established a group under the Covid taskforce which would link in with the work underway at a UK level.

However there were currently no international flights arriving in Northern Ireland, he said. "All individuals who are in transit travelling into Northern Ireland will then be required to quarantine in their port of arrival [in England] ... they will remain quarantined in their port of arrival and require testing as has [been] outlined at day two [and] day eight prior to onward travel to complete their homeward journey."

“In public health terms anything we can do that delays the arrival of potential new variants is to be supported,” he said.

The most recent data from the North’s Department of Health shows the death rate has been slowing, with a total of 58 deaths with Covid-19 recorded in the last seven days, compared with 112 the previous week.

A total of 579 people with Covid-19 are being treated in the North’s hospitals, with 60 in intensive care.

Freya McClements

Freya McClements

Freya McClements is Northern Editor of The Irish Times