The tighter restrictions will take effect at 6 p.m. and will see all pubs and restaurants close unless they offer a take-out service.
Schools will close for two weeks starting Monday.
Michael Allen, principal of Lisneal College in Derry / Londonderry, says there is “real concern” that students will be forced to stay away for more than a fortnight if Ireland’s infection rate is North is not diminishing.
“There is absolutely no guarantee of a return in two weeks as the messages have always been inconsistent,” he said.
“Especially with education, we’ve seen so many U-turns that we only take it one day at a time.
“Teachers fear that if the landscape changes, it could be another U-turn. “
Northern Ireland’s “circuit breaker” means:
- Pubs / restaurants are closed
- Schools are closed
- Hairdressers / beauticians are closed
- Non-license sales stop at 8 p.m.
- Indoor sports are stopped
- Overnight stays in other houses are prohibited
Mr Allen’s school is located in the Derry Strabane Council area, where the 14-day incidence rate is almost 1,600 per 100,000 population: the highest in the UK.
The school has had 10 positive cases in the past fortnight, and 60 other students are now self-isolating.
Despite this, and the disruption for exam year students in particular, Allen says morale is good, but calls for greater enforcement of the restrictions.
“In order to enforce this, I think they [the Police Service of Northern Ireland] will need more powers.
“People have to take their personal responsibilities, but since there is so much at stake, if it is not implemented correctly it will be a case of kicking the streets. It could mean a tremendous amount of sacrifice for nothing. ”
This call was echoed by Mervyn Storey, member of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).
The North Antrim MP described the PSNI’s enforcement of COVID-19 regulations as “inconsistent and toothless” and called for a “surge” in policing during the lockdown.
Doctors in Northern Ireland remain to be convinced of the effectiveness of the new rules.
Dr Tom Black is a general practitioner in the Derry / Londonderry hotspot area and president of the British Medical Association in Northern Ireland.
He said the new restrictions were “too few, too late” and called for the introduction of stricter rules.
Citizens of Northern Ireland are not the only ones facing tighter restrictions.
Amid an increase in COVID-19 cases, the Republic of Ireland’s three Ulster counties, Donegal, Cavan and Monaghan, have now been placed on the fourth level of the country’s five-tier alert system.
This means non-essential businesses are closed, social gatherings and home visits are banned, although unlike in Northern Ireland there are no plans to close schools.