April 17, 2021

48-hour ban on flights from the UK in connection with the new Govt-19 strain

The government is set to impose a 48-hour ban on flights from the UK following fears that a new strain of the Covit-19 could spread, while boats will be restricted to cargo.

The move was agreed by the three coalition leaders discussed this afternoon, and Transport Minister Emon Ryan made the announcement this evening.

The ban is effective tomorrow and Tuesday and the measures will be considered by the Cabinet on Tuesday.

Boat smuggling between Ireland and the UK will continue to move essential supply chains.

In a statement, the government said: “Ministers have been in touch with UK officials and the Department of Transportation has advised airlines to impose sanctions.

“There will be close coordination with Northern Ireland authorities as these arrangements are made.”

Arrangements have been made to repatriate Irish residents on short trips to the UK, with plans to return in the coming days, and for international travelers to travel to Ireland via the UK.

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Speaking at government buildings in Dublin today, Mr Ryan said: “We need to be towed to keep our cabinets full, but other passengers will be barred.

“I have been talking to the UK Minister this morning, Davos (Michael Martin) and Deniste (Leo Varadkar), the Minister of Health, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and others involved throughout the day.

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“We have to do this because the UK government has imposed very strict restrictions on movements.

“This new strain of the corona virus they have identified has the highest transmission rate.

“It simply came to our notice then [ban] 48 hours is in place, but there will be changing improvements, let’s evaluate how it works and how to manage it from there.

“It doesn’t look like there will be a relaxation after 48 hours, but it’s a step to control traffic based on a precautionary policy, it’s right to do it on a trial basis, then review it within 48 hours,” Mr Ryan said.

Da advises all airlines to check the latest flight information with their airlines before traveling to the airport.

An emergency meeting of the Stormont executive will be held tonight at 9pm to discuss the implications of the new variant of the Covit-19.

Senior executive sources told RT First News that Prime Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy Prime Minister Michael O’Neill are in talks with the British government to find answers to “important questions”.

Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands have also announced a ban on passenger flights from Britain.

Earlier, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said everything should be done to protect the health service.

Speaking on RTÉ’s show this week, Mr Donnelly said the Irish people, who could not come from the UK due to the new restrictions, were in a bad situation.

Stephen Donnelly

Mr Donnelly said the majority of Irish people abroad had decided not to travel because of the virus, but a small number had planned to come home, and he said his “heart went to them”.

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He said the government was taking the situation very seriously as the new situation could spread up to 70%.

Lynn Boylan of Sinn Fin said: “Instead of an air ban, we need to fix what we don’t really do in the epidemics that monitor people coming into the country, and there is proper communication tracking and testing to combat what it is.

“I think we need to have an organization where people are going to control their movements and they are being followed.

“There’s a big concern about people coming home from the UK for Christmas and whether they’re carrying that hardship.

“I see a lot about what we’ve been doing for almost a year now, and that nut that keeps track of people leaving the country has never really broken down,” Ms Boylan said.

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Labor has said it supports the decision to suspend travel from the UK, but said it would be devastating for many families.

It urges the government to present a cabinet meeting on Tuesday to provide clear guidelines to the people for the Christmas period.

Duncan Smith, the party’s transport spokesman, said the latest developments “required a mandatory Govt-19 test at our airports and ports for visitors to Ireland in the coming days and weeks.”

The World Health Organization has called on its members in Europe to step up action against the new strain.

Outside the UK, nine cases have been reported in Denmark, as well as in the Netherlands and Australia, according to the World Health Organization.

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“As the spread spreads across Europe, countries need to redouble their control and prevention approaches,” a WHO Europe spokesman said.

Additional report: PA, AFP