The Northern Ireland Executive has today issued a statement urging people in the region to take action in order to keep society open.

"Covid-19 has once again taken a firm grip across our society," the Northern Ireland Executive said in a statement on Tuesday, November 23. "Hospital admissions are rising and modelling indicates that admissions will increase further in the coming weeks.

"The clear advice from public health experts is that an intervention is now required.  

"Our people – individuals, families, communities, and businesses - have been through so much during this pandemic. Our collective aim is to reduce pressure on our hospitals, while allowing our society and the economy to remain open as fully and safely as possible.

"That means we all need to take action to prevent a worsening of the situation that would potentially require more severe measures.

"We met again today to discuss further steps that are needed to help break the chain of transmission."

The statement outlines key areas where people can take action:


Please take up the vaccine, including the booster, when it is offered to you. The evidence on the benefits of vaccination is unequivocal. And the statistics are stark. 

Unvaccinated adults aged under 50 are almost 11 times more likely to need hospitalisation from Covid-19. Unvaccinated individuals aged 50 and over are four times more likely to die from Covid-19 than those who are fully vaccinated.

Work from home

We are also strengthening the message that people should work from home where possible. More people working from home will help to reduce the risk of transmission both inside and outside the workplace.

We recognise that this may present challenges in some work areas and ask employees to work from home where they can, and advise employers to support this where possible.

Making safer choices

It is vital that every person makes safer choices that will protect you, your family, the wider community, and the health service.

Every step counts. As well as taking up the vaccine and working from home where possible, we ask everyone to:

  • Limit your social contacts – this will minimise opportunities for the virus to spread.
  • Meet outdoors where you can – it’s safer than meeting indoors.
  • If meeting indoors, make sure the space is well ventilated – good ventilation is critical in reducing risk of transmission when indoors.
  • Wear a face covering in crowded or indoor settings – face coverings remain a vital mitigation and it is critical that people continue to use them in all circumstances where they are required.
  • Keep washing your hands or use a sanitiser.

The statement continues: "We understand how difficult this situation is for everyone and we will be stepping up our public information campaign to encourage everyone to keep following the advice.

"None of us wanted to be in this position, but this pandemic is unpredictable and it continues to pose a threat.

"We have an opportunity to make a difference by working together to keep our society open and protect the health service.

"Let’s do everything we can to ensure we halt the spread of Covid as we approach Christmas."

Paul Givan, the First Minister of Northern Ireland, said on Twitter "we can all make a contribution that will help make a difference."

The Executive has engaged constructively & agreed a number of measures that will step up our collective efforts against the spread of Covid. Whilst there is differences across society on the most effective measures, we can all make a contribution that will help make a difference.

— Paul Givan (@paulgivan) November 23, 2021

Michelle O'Neill, the Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland, said on Twitter that "our priority is to keep society open and safe."

Our priority is to keep society open & safe.⁰⁰The Executive asks everyone to refocus efforts to slow the spread of Covid-19 & protect the health service
⁰▶️Get the vaccines & booster
▶️Work from home if you can
▶️Meet outdoors or in well ventilated areas
▶️Wear a face covering

— Michelle O’Neill (@moneillsf) November 23, 2021

The day the statement was issued, Northern Ireland’s Department of Health reported 1,476 new COVID cases, bringing the total to  307,527, and four new deaths, bringing the total to 2,847. 33 of Northern Ireland’s 99 ICU beds were occupied by COVID patients on Tuesday.

Last week, the Executive announced that the region will be adopting a COVID passport scheme for hospitality. The scheme comes into effect next week, November 29, and will be enforceable from December 13. You can learn more about it here.