COVID-19 advice - Northern Ireland

Last updated on: 12 January 2021

Each of the devolved nations has its own approach to handling the COVID-19 crisis. Here you’ll find the specific details for people living in Northern Ireland. 

While things are changing, you still need to follow the guidance on staying home and limiting contact with others, social distancing and hygiene. 

We’re regularly updating our coronavirus information to ensure you have the most up-to-date and relevant content available.

Current restrictions

Lockdown restrictions are currently in place, for the latest details read the guidance on the NI direct Gov website.

COVID-19 vaccines

There’s a UK-wide plan to prioritise certain groups to be vaccinated first. Read more about priority groups.

In Northern Ireland the vaccination rollout has started with healthcare workers, care home residents and staff and those with certain clinical conditions.

People considered ‘clinically extremely vulnerable' have the same priority as people aged 70 and over. The NHS will contact you when it’s your turn to have it.

Read the latest guidance: COVID-19 vaccines - your questions answered. For further information specific to Northern Ireland, check the NI Direct Gov UK website.

Shielding 

The Northern Ireland Government is recommending you follow the guidance for clinically extremely vulnerable, if you are in this risk group. For more information on these groups read the following:

Social distancing should continue to be followed. People who are vulnerable and should continue to take precautions. 

Read the latest guidance on what the COVID-19 regulations mean for you.

Taking extra care and strict social distancing

If you are in the clinically extremely vulnerable group and do go out, you should take extra care to minimise contact with others by maintaining strict social distancing. This includes:

  • Keeping two metres away from people not in your household or support bubble and avoid face to face contact
  • Working from home
  • Washing your hands regularly and use hand sanitiser outside your home if you’ve touched other surfaces

For help with social distancing, check out the please give me space website.

Read more information about staying safe.

Meeting other people and social distancing

Read more about meeting other people and what you can and can't do.

Social distancing means staying at home except for a few specific purposes. These include work (if you can’t work at home), exercise, collecting food or medical supplies, receiving essential healthcare or providing care for someone vulnerable.

When you do need to leave your home try, wherever possible, to keep at least two metres from anyone who is not a member of your own household. 

Hygiene is also important. Wash your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds using soap and water; when these aren’t readily available, use a hand sanitiser gel instead.

What about face masks?

It is mandatory to wear a facial covering when entering confined spaces such as shops and on public transport. Read more about face coverings.

Face coverings should not be used in place of physical distancing and good hygiene.

Rules about exercise and outdoor activity

You can leave your home to exercise, unless you have symptoms of coronavirus or have been identified as needing to shield yourself against coronavirus. Read more information about exercise on the Public Health Agency website.

Self-isolating

You should self-isolate if you or somebody else in your household develops symptoms of coronavirus. This means not leaving your home for any reason and not having visitors, unless it’s for essential medical care. If you have symptoms of COVID-19 however mild, you must self-isolate for at least 10 days from when your symptoms started. You should arrange to have a test to see if you have COVID-19 – book a test online. Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.

You can also download a new 'StopCovid NI' app  if you are based in Northern Ireland.  This is the first of its type to launch in the UK and it anonymously contacts you if you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for Coronavirus.

You’ll need to arrange for food and essential supplies to be delivered and these should be left at your door to minimise contact with the delivery person.

Read the NI Direct guidance on self-isolating.

Helplines

There’s a freephone helpline number 0808 802 0020 for vulnerable people. Or you can complete a form on the Advice NI website, email covid19@adviceni.net or text ACTION to 81025. You can find a directory of other useful helplines on the Helplines NI website.

Apps

The Department of Health has developed a Covid-19 NI app - search for Covid-19 NI on the Apple app store or Covid-19 NI on Google Play and an online symptom checker.

Health and Social Care (HSC) in NI has developed a library of smartphone apps to support health and social well being.

Staying safe at work

Read the latest guidance for employers and employees to keep safe in the workplace during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Frequently Asked Questions

The Public Health Agency has produced a useful list of FAQs.

Are you a Rheumatology patient in Northern Ireland?

Would you give a few minutes of your time to share anonymously your experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic and tell us how you have been affected?

Complete the survey>

Your responses will help one of our Health and Social Care trusts evaluate experiences and look at ways to improve services in the future.

Keep updated

If you’re feeling isolated from family and friends during these uncertain times, we’re here for you. Find out more about the support available in your area.

Stay in touch and follow us on Northern Ireland Versus Arthritis Facebook and Northern Ireland Versus Arthritis Twitter.

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