Northern Ireland is “facing into the most difficult winter ever experienced”, Robin Swann has warned.
The health minister said there were “unscheduled pressures” facing the health and social care system.
Earlier, Naomi Long said she feared relaxing rules on face coverings in nightclubs may cause a “significant” rise in the transmission of Covid-19.
The justice minister said she was concerned about a “lack of clarity” in health advice.
On Thursday, the executive agreed people will not need to wear masks while dancing in nightclubs when they reopen next Sunday.
Social distancing laws in hospitality venues will also be scrapped.
However, Northern Ireland will not be following England and Wales in easing rules around testing for Covid-19 after international travel.
From Sunday, those returning to England will only be required to take a lateral flow test after their arrival but those returning to Northern Ireland will still be required to pay for a more expensive PCR test.
Any decision to move to lateral flow tests will require executive consideration and agreement.