Speaking as the Stormont Assembly was asked to rubberstamp COVID restriction relaxations on the same day closed-door Executive meetings discussed tightening COVID restrictions, PBP MLA Gerry Carroll said that if the matter weren’t so grievously serious, the Executive would be a laughing stock. He said:
“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?
“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 repeat 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 real and overriding concern is how many hospitality workers will be infected or hospitalised by the Executive’s reckless approach. 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 refocus on tracking, tracing, ventilation, working from home, 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. The Executive needs to change track urgently or we face a very bleak winter indeed.”