The Northern Ireland executive has agreed to reduce the five-day Christmas bubble arrangements in the region to one day.
Relaxation COVID-19 The rules that allow the three houses to merge will now be limited to one day only from December 23rd to 27th.
This flexibility will allow those who work on Christmas Day to choose an alternative day that is most appropriate.
The Stormont ministers made the decision during an emergency virtual executive meeting on Sunday evening in response to a new variant of the corona virus that has been caught in London and the southeast.
The administrator said: “Everyone has a safe place to spend Christmas in their own home and people are strongly advised to stay home for Christmas.
“Those who think they have to meet their bubble should keep it as small as possible, as close to home as possible, and short of attendance.”
Ministers also discussed amending the Public Health Act 1967 to impose a temporary ban on travel from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.
Sinn Fன்in supported the move, although practical issues were raised as to how quickly such a ban could be introduced, which would take time for the health department to devise regulations to bring it into effect.
The DUP’s position is that domestic travel to the UK is already restricted from Tier 4 areas of the UK, so no additional stormond law is required to enforce it.
The party believes the responsibility for stopping planes and boats within the UK is an issue for the UK government, and has raised concerns that the law could open itself up to Stormont compensation loans in this case.
It is understood the health department will seek further legal advice on the matter before the executive resumes discussions on Monday.
On Sunday, the Northern Ireland Health Department confirmed with COVID-19 that 13 more people had died within 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 1,196.
A further 505 new viral diseases have been reported in the region. There were 421 COVID-19 patients in hospitals, including 30 in the ICU.
The administrator decided last week to impose a six-week lockout from December 26th.
The new restrictions include the closure of all non-essential stores and the closure of hotels, bars and restaurants, excluding takeaway services.
The first week of the new lock-up will see drastic measures, all sports activities will be banned and essential shops are said to be closed at 8pm.