The health minister says a difficult two weeks lie ahead - but he has urged people to adhere to the latest coronavirus restrictions.
A new lockdown is set to run from 27 November to 11 December in Northern Ireland.
Robin Swann says the “stricter” measures are necessary to get Covid-19 under control and protect the health service.
He urged people to “stick with us”.
Speaking on UTV Live, the minister said: “It’s going to be a hard two weeks, it’s going to be a hard winter for our health service.
“This is stricter than we’ve done since the first phase.
“But these are the steps that are necessary to make sure our health service is in a position where it can support patients, and we can support our staff as well.
“Please stick with us, so we can get to a better Christmas and well into the new year.”
Business leaders have voiced their anger over the Executive’s handling of the lockdown and the support measures that have been put in place.
“I understand their frustration," continued Mr Swann.
"I think there is now a job of work that needs to be done very quickly within the Executive to make sure we can get as much support out to those businesses as soon as possible.”