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All non-essential shops in Northern Ireland must close from the end of trading on Christmas Eve as part of tougher measures to combat the spread of coronavirus.

Off-sales are not permitted after 8pm, and click-and-collect services will also not be allowed.

The first week of the lockdown period will see even tighter measures for retailers. Between Boxing Day and January 2, all stores, including those classed as essential, are forced to close their doors by 8pm each day.

NFRN Northern Ireland president Judith Mercer said: “It’s going to be crippling for the economy, but at the same time we need measures put in place to stop the spread of this virus.

“We need people to understand that they must wear a mask when they are shopping in local stores, to protect themselves and shop staff. The local newsagent’s or convenience store seems to be a place where some people think they can just nip in and out, so they don’t need to wear a mask.

“We all want to get back to normality as soon as possible, so if it takes a lockdown to help that then that’s what we have to have and everybody needs to stick to the rules.”

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