Executive compromise deal far from perfect but preferable to alternative, says Long

The alternative to tonight’s compromise Executive deal on coronavirus restrictions was to have the regulations fall and revert to the previous regulations in place during the start of October, Alliance Leader Naomi Long MLA has said.

Mrs Long said the compromise deal was “far from perfect” but was preferable to the alternative, which would have seen all hospitality venues reopened from midnight on Friday, including ‘wet’ bars, mass events permitted, increased household mixing and large weddings restarted.

“I have been open about my support for the Health Minister’s two papers which he brought to the Executive this week and which were both vetoed by the DUP,” she said.

“This is a far from perfect position, arrived in in a profoundly flawed way, but having exhausted the search for agreement on every other proposition, we faced a stark choice between this and allowing the current regulations to fall in their entirety, and pubs, restaurants and other venues reopen tomorrow at midnight. It was not a choice between good and better but between bad and worse. On that basis alone I supported this proposal.

“I understand businesses and the wider community desperately want certainty, but regrettably none of us are in a position to offer that, as we are in the midst of a global pandemic involving a novel virus. Any indications about what we want to achieve over the next few weeks must come with a health warning that it will depend on the levels of transmission at that time.

“However, that does not in any way excuse the added uncertainty which the debacle of the Executive being unable to take a decision over the last seven days introduced into an already stressful and anxious time for everyone in the community. This week has seen government treated like a political negotiation, which is no way to conduct business, particularly in the midst of a public health crisis.

“A repeat of that in two weeks time would be unconscionable. It is now incumbent on us all to ensure that will not happen.”