People in Northern Ireland will not be allowed to leave their homes without a reasonable excuse and police will also have the power to force any premises to close, according to new measures that will come into force at 23:00 GMT.
“These are extraordinary powers for any Government to have to introduce, but we are living in extraordinary times,” First Minister of Northern Ireland Arlene Foster said.
Foster added that the new restrictions were enacted to reduce the rate of infection in the country, which would also help ease the burden on health care professionals.
“We are asking the people of Northern Ireland to make fundamental changes to how they live their lives. But we are doing this to keep you safe, to flatten the curve of the Covid-19 infection so that the health service has the capacity to deal with those who need their help the most,” she said.
As of 09:16 GMT on Saturday, 324 cases of COVID-19 have been registered in Northern Ireland, with 15 deaths. A total of 49 cases were confirmed in the preceding 24 hours.
In the United Kingdom, 17,089 people have so far tested positive for the disease since the start of the outbreak, according to the Department of Health and Social Care’s daily statistical bulletin on Saturday.