People in Northern Ireland have been warned it could be "catastrophic" if they become complacent and ignore restrictions aimed at saving lives and halting the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. 

First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill were speaking after weekend reports that compliance with social distancing has reduced.

In their daily press briefing, they both warned that it is too early for restrictions to be lifted. 

"Now is not the time for government, for businesses and for individuals to gamble with peoples' lives, and we need to proceed cautiously and make sure we are doing everything we can to avoid another spike occurring," Mrs Foster said.

"It is not the time for impatience to get the better of us. No one should act as if coronavirus has been beaten, it hasn't, and we still have some way to go."

The DUP leader said the impact of ignoring the restrictions could be "catastrophic" for Northern Ireland.

Ms O'Neill said it was disappointing to hear reports that some people had decided for themselves that it was time to relax the restrictions. 

"Can I just say that kind of attitude is wrong, its reckless and it is endangering lives," she said.

The Sinn Féin deputy leader warned that the executive may be forced to "reset" and go back to the start of lockdown measures if such behaviour continued.

Asked if Stormont may beef up restrictions or introduce stiffer penalties, Ms O'Neill said the issue of enforcement had been discussed at a meeting of the Civil Contingencies Group.

"With each day that passes we learn more about the impact of this disease and the devastation it is causing, so it is disappointing to hear reports of some people who seem to have decided for themselves that it's time to relax the restrictions that are in place to save lives," she said.

"Until a vaccine is found it means we must co-exist with this virus and that means a radical change to how we live our daily lives for some time."

Ms O'Neill also said Stormont ministers will hold talks the Irish Government on the ongoing health crisis on Thursday.

There have been ten additional deaths as result of Covid-19 in hospitals in Northern Ireland, bringing the total to 309.

There have also been 66 new positive tests for Covid-19, bringing the total to 3,374.

The number of fatalities does not include deaths in nursing homes or other non-hospital settings.

Additional reporting Press Association