All non-essential retail has closed as part of a new six-week coronavirus lockdown in Northern Ireland.

A night-time curfew is also being imposed for the first week.

The restrictions, which came into effect at a minute past midnight, will be reviewed after four weeks.

The new lockdown comes as a further 20 deaths have been reported by the Department of Health in the North.

It takes the official Department of Health death toll to 1,271.

A further 998 cases of Covid-19 have also been confirmed in the past 48 hours.

The hospitality sector has also closed, with restaurants, cafes and pubs that sell food limited to takeaway and delivery service only.

The shutters have also come down on close contact services, such as hairdressers and beauty salons.

During the first week, until 2 January, people have been told not to leave their homes between 8pm and 6am except for essential reasons.

Takeaway and delivery of takeaway food is not permitted during those hours.

No indoor or outdoor gatherings of any kind are permitted during that time, and household mixing in private gardens is also banned.

The Stormont Executive has described the restrictions as draconian, but said they are essential to tackle high rates of infection and death.

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Since Christmas Eve, anyone arriving in Northern Ireland from Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland intending to stay for at least 24 hours must self-isolate for ten days.

The measures are aimed at combatting a new more infectious strain of the virus detected in the southeast of England.

There are no travel restrictions on those who live in the Republic who regularly cross the border for essential services, such as providing health care.

New restrictions have also been introduced for anyone in Northern Ireland who has been in South Africa in the previous 14 days.

They are asked to self-isolate along with all their household members for ten days after they left South Africa.

The decision is aimed at tackling another variant strain of coronavirus detected in South Africa earlier this week.

Recently, queues of ambulances were witnessed at accident and emergency departments across Northern Ireland as patients were treated in car parks due to a lack of capacity inside hospitals.

At one point, 17 ambulances containing patients were lined up outside the emergency department at Antrim Area Hospital.