UUP Leader Steve Aiken OBE MLA said:
“I think the question most people are asking this morning is what was the last week all about? The Health Minister hasn’t changed his message, so the DUP have a lot to answer for as to why businesses could not have been given this certainty earlier.
“This is not, and will never be, health versus the economy. This is the biggest health crisis we have faced in our lifetime. Lives lost during these months will not be able to be recovered afterwards.
“It is totally inexcusable that businesses have not yet received the support they were promised weeks ago. There is over £523m currently sitting unspent and unallocated in the Executive account. At this time we should be spending to support the Economy. It's a disgrace that as many businesses face by far their most difficult period ever, the Executive is sitting on over half a billion pounds which it will lose if not spent by the end of March. There are very serious questions hanging over the Departments of the Economy and Finance and what they have been doing to support businesses and workers throughout this pandemic.“The DUP’s indecision has done nothing other than lose a week in potentially cutting transmission of COVID and has messed businesses about again.”