Tougher Covid-19 restrictions being imposed in NI do not represent a second lockdown but should act as a wake-up call, First Minister Arlene Foster has said.
In a live televised address, Mrs Foster and Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill called for a “big push” to curb the rising number of Covid-19 cases.
It followed a statement by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
He warned of tougher measures if people did not stick to the new rules.
Mr Johnson called on the UK to “summon the discipline and the resolve” to tackle the threat from the virus.
From Tuesday evening, people from different households cannot mix indoors in Northern Ireland, as part of new restrictions outlined by the executive.
“Bubbling” with one household is allowed.
There is also a limit of six people from no more than two households, excluding children aged 12 or under, gathering in a private garden.
Mrs Foster said NI was now reporting the highest number of cases since the early stages of the pandemic, with a 50% rise in hospital in-patients over the past week.
“We need to act,” she said.
“But I want to reassure you, that despite all the headlines, this is not a second lockdown.
“This is a wakeup call. A reminder that we are not out of the woods.”
Ms O’Neill said taking no further action would “risk a worsening situation by mid-October onwards”.
“The choices you make could be the difference between life and death for those closest to you,” she said.
“We are appealing for the whole community to play your part by uniting in solidarity to supress further transmission of this deadly virus.”