Northern Ireland’s coronavirus lockdown restrictions will be extended to March 5.
Stormont health minister Robin Swann proposed the step to help drive down case numbers.
Ministerial colleagues at the Executive in Belfast agreed the move and there are suggestions the curbs could ultimately continue until Easter.
An extended lockdown closing non-essential retailers, keeping schools shut to most pupils and encouraging employees to work from home began after Christmas.
Family gatherings are prohibited and police enforcement has been stepped up.
It comes two days after Scotland’s national lockdown was extended to “mid-February” at least – and as fears ebbed away that England’s lockdown will be eased from February 22.
Boris Johnson said it was “too early to say” when restrictions would be lifted and Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said only that he “hoped” schools would return before Easter.
The Prime Minister, who previously claimed life could be back to normal by Easter, struck a more cautious tone.
Downing Street refused to rule out keeping measures in place in England until the summer, saying that while it wanted to ease them “as soon as it is safe to do so” all evidence was being kept under review.
No 10 said the PM hoped that this will be the “last national lockdown” as officials suggested he was resigned to it going on for longer to achieve that.
The PM promised to review the national restrictions in mid February when he announced the third national lockdown earlier this month.
But Downing Street warned easing restrictions could only happen when transmission rates have fallen and pressure on the NHS has eased.
The PM’s official spokesman also said the success of the vaccine rollout was key to leaving lockdown.
A scientist advising the Government on coronavirus said bars and restaurants should not reopen before May.
Northern Ireland’s First Minister Arlene Foster said the reproductive number for cases is now down to between 0.6-0.8, a halving of the rate of cases in two weeks.
Speaking in Dungannon, Co Tyrone, following a meeting of the Stormont Executive, Mrs Foster said they had received a detailed briefing from health officials about the situation in hospitals.
She said this week the health service is facing a peak of Covid demand, and is struggling to cope.
“The Executive today has reviewed the current restrictions and agreed that they remain an appropriate and necessary response to the serious and imminent threat posed by Covid-19,” she said.
“Following a detailed outline from health highlighting the continuing pressures on our hospitals and ICU departments and the emergency of the highly transmissible variants, the Executive has agreed that the current restrictions will be extended for a further four weeks until March 5 2021.
“The restrictions will be reviewed on or before February 18.”
Arlene Foster said she appreciates today’s announcement will be disappointing to many, particularly those feeling the “pain of separation”.
“This is undoubtedly the most difficult of times and we know the sacrifice that you’re all making to save lives and as an Executive we are committed to taking every possible step to move us forward out of this pandemic,” she said.