Coronavirus: Restaurants, pubs and bars in Northern Ireland to face an 11pm curfew

29 September 2020, 10:49 | Updated: 29 September 2020, 12:38

Pubs, bars and restaurants in Northern Ireland will face an 11pm curfew, First Minister Arlene Foster has announced.

The curfew will apply from midnight on Wednesday and establishments will have to call for last orders at 10.30pm.

The new rules will also affect cafes, hotels and guesthouses - and weddings will not be exempt.

"The intention behind the earlier closing time is that socialising later in the evening is considered to increase the risk of virus spreading because people adhere to the rules less strictly after consuming alcohol and in venues where they are used to mixing freely," Mrs Foster told the Stormont Assembly.

Supermarkets and off licences are already banned from selling alcohol after 11pm and there are restrictions stopping more than one household meeting in homes.

Mrs Foster said although there was a "risk" people would go to house parties, the rules already in place should prevent this.

The restrictions will be subject to enforcement, the first minister added.

She explained: "We do not want to go there. We would prefer that everyone works with us to impact the spread of the virus.

"But enforcement has a role, and we are working closely with the PSNI and local government to understand the issues from their perspectives and also the importance of community responses."

England, Scotland and Wales have already imposed 10pm curfews on the hospitality sector.

On Saturday, Northern Ireland recorded its highest daily number of new coronavirus cases since the pandemic began.

A further 319 people tested positive for coronavirus, the Department of Health confirmed.

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However, this is still unlikely to be near levels at the peak of the pandemic, when there was less testing and more cases could have been missed.

There are currently 51 COVID-19 patients in Northern Irish hospitals, with six people in intensive care.