Coronavirus (COVID-19): restrictions on businesses and services

The Northern Ireland Executive has agreed new powers to combat the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). The regulations came into effect at 11.00 pm on Saturday 28 March, placing certain restrictions on businesses and services from that date.

Businesses that can continue to trade with customers on site

The following types of businesses can continue to operate but are under a legal duty to adopt social distancing measures. This does not mean that these are the only types of businesses that may remain open:

  • food retailers, including food markets, supermarkets, convenience stores and corner shops
  • off licences and licensed shops selling alcohol (including breweries)
  • pharmacies (including non-dispensing pharmacies) and chemists
  • newsagents
  • homeware, building supplies and hardware stores
  • petrol stations
  • car repair and MOT services
  • bicycle shops
  • taxi or vehicle hire businesses
  • banks, building societies, credit unions, short term loan providers and cash points
  • post offices
  • funeral directors
  • laundrettes and dry cleaners
  • dental services, opticians, audiology services, chiropody, chiropractors, osteopaths and other medical or health services, including services relating to mental health
  • veterinary surgeons and pet shops
  • agricultural supplies shops
  • storage and distribution facilities, including delivery drop off or collection points, where the facilities are in the premises of a business included in this part
  • car parks
  • public toilets

Businesses which must close to customers on site

Under the new regulations, the following businesses are subject to restrictions or closure :

  • restaurants, including restaurants and dining rooms in hotels or members’ clubs
  • cafes, including workplace canteens (subject to sub-paragraph (2) of the regulations), but not including - cafes or canteens at a hospital, care home or school
    • services providing food or drink to the homeless
    • canteens at a prison or an establishment intended for use for naval, military or air force purposes or for the purposes of the Department of the Secretary of State responsible for defence
    • workplace canteens may remain open where there is no practical alternative for staff at that workplace to obtain food
  • bars, including bars in hotels or members’ clubs
  • public houses
  • cinemas
  • theatres
  • nightclubs
  • bingo halls
  • concert halls
  • museums and galleries
  • casinos
  • betting shops
  • spas
  • nail, beauty, hair salons and barbers
  • massage parlours
  • tattoo and piercing parlours
  • skating rinks
  • indoor fitness studios, gyms, swimming pools, bowling alleys, amusement arcades or soft play areas or other indoor leisure centres or facilities
  • funfairs (whether outdoors or indoors)
  • playgrounds, sports courts and outdoor gyms
  • outdoor markets (except for stalls selling food)
  • car showrooms
  • auction houses

Workplace safety guidelines and social distancing

If your business can continue to operate, you must follow workplace safety guidelines and social distancing to protect the safety and health of everyone in your workplace.

Drinking water

Find out what you need to do if you are reopening your business after a period of closure.  If you are responsible for a business and the water supply has not been used for a while, as part of your planning for reopening, read the following guidance:

Regulations and business

Information on what the new regulations mean for business is available on the nibusinessinfo website at this link:

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