PEOPLE Before Profit MLA Gerry Carroll has hit out at the Stormont Executive as it met to discuss new Coronavirus restrictions on the same day MLAs were asked to approve previous relaxations.

It comes after the Health Minister Robin Swann said hospitality venues may have to close over Christmas to curb the rising Covid-19 cases.

On Monday, Mr Carroll said the Executive would be "a laughing stock" were the situation not "so grievously serious".

“How long does the Executive expect people to stay on this merry-go-round of emergency restrictions to deal with the surges caused by their own diabolical decision making?" the West Belfast MLA said.

“Today we were asked to rubber stamp Covid regulations which were introduced weeks ago, to end social distancing in hospitality venues. This is the kind of democratic deficit you could have expected from Donald Trump, but the Executive has been working this way for nearly two years.

“Worse, these relaxations have made headlines because of 170 related Covid cases in just one hospitality venue. And just hours prior, the Executive themselves were debating new restrictions to deal with such surges.

“This is a carbon copy of what happened last July and last Christmas. If this situation weren’t so grievously serious, the Executive would be a laughing stock. Aside from questions of process, my concern is how many hospitality workers will be infected or hospitalised by the Executive’s reckless approach here.  Bars and restaurants will be overflowing with people over the Christmas period, and the Executive has made the bonkers decision to remove social distancing from these venues. 

“We urgently need to get back to basics of distancing, hand-washing and wearing masks, while focusing on tracking, tracing, ventilation, working from home where possible, and minimising the spread of this virus. Other countries have managed this, but our Executive has consistently caved to business interests, and put their own agenda in front of public health.”

Ministers met once again on Tuesday and have since urged people to work from home "where possible", to limit social contacts and to wear face coverings in indoor settings.

In a joint statement, the Executive said that with hospital admissions rising, and admissions expected to continue to rise, "intervention is now required."

Ministers have not ordered employers to facilitate home working, but asked them to "support this where possible".

They also advised the public to get vaccinated. 

"Unvaccinated adults aged under 50 are almost 11 times more likely to need hospitalisation from Covid-19," the statement read.

"Unvaccinated individuals aged 50 and over are four times more likely to die from Covid-19 than those who are fully vaccinated."