Politicians who want the wearing of face masks to be made mandatory are "playing" on the public's fears, a DUP MP has said.
Sammy Wilson claimed those who support the policy are engaging in "political blackmail", insisting the statistical evidence for the compulsory wearing of face masks is "weak".
England, Scotland and Wales have all made it mandatory for face coverings to be worn in order for people to enter shops and other outlets.
Stormont has deferred making a decision on the same measure until next month in a bid to encourage more people to adopt masks voluntarily.
The East Antrim MP, who recently warned making the policy compulsory would harm the economy by putting people off shopping, said the Executive's stance on the issue was "absurd".
His attack comes as Chief Scientific Officer Professor Ian Young urged people here to wear face coverings, revealing there was now "more and stronger evidence" of its benefits than was first evident at the start of the pandemic.
Health Minister Robin Swann also appealed for people to wear masks to help those with underlying health conditions who have been shielding since the start of lockdown, but who are to pause the measure from tomorrow.
Shielding is being paused due to the currently low prevalence of Covid-19 in the community. The situation will be kept under review.
Mr Swann said yesterday the medical and scientific evidence for face coverings is "compelling".
However, Mr Wilson insisted recent official figures showed making the measure compulsory would be "pointless".
"With the number of patients in hospital suffering from Covid-19 now in single figures and the number of new infections throughout July not totalling more than 20 a day, it is absurd for politicians to blackmail the public into wearing face masks," he said.
"Throughout the whole month of July, when face masks were not mandatory in shops, there were five deaths related to, not caused by, Covid-19.
"This fall in the Covid-related death rate and drop in new infections happened at a time when retail was open for business and the wearing of face masks was not enforced.
"It is deeply irresponsible for politicians to ignore the facts and instead play on the fears of the public to bring about the mandatory use of face masks."