Stormont ministers are to advise against unnecessary trips between Northern Ireland and the rest of England.
Ministers Northern Ireland Advising people not to travel to the Republic of Ireland.
The Sinfine plan to temporarily ban travel between Northern Ireland and Great Britain was defeated during an emergency night-time virtual executive meeting, the press association understands.
The meeting was convened in a brief announcement after Health Minister Robin Swann circulated a study responding to the emergence of the COVID-19 variant, in which he recommended providing guidelines against everyone other than essential travel rather than going for an immediate ban.
A direct travel ban to Mr Swan’s ministers could cut key supply routes to Northern Ireland and leave executives facing massive compensation demands, as a ban could be challenged on human rights grounds.
He said the new variant of COVID was already believed to exist in Northern Ireland and was “almost inevitable” in the Irish Republic.
He also warned of the dangers of using Northern Ireland as a “gateway” to the Irish Republic as a result of the ban on Irish / UK flights.
David Flewins, Ireland correspondent for Sky News, said: “Despite the global health crisis, travel restrictions are a political minefield in Northern Ireland.
“Asking the Unionists to ban travel from Great Britain is tantamount to asking the Irish government to ban travel from Northern Ireland.
“The Minister of Health of Stormont seems to have proposed a compromise, suggesting that people should be advised against all but the essential trips between Great Britain and Northern Ireland and Northern Ireland and the Republic.”
Glad that XX accepted my paper tonight, including immediate guidance for everyone except the essential trips between NI and GB / ROI, asking all new visitors here to self-isolate for 10 days. 1/2
– Robin Swan MLA: #StopCovidNI (obRobinSwannMoH) December 22, 2020
The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) and the Coalition opposed the Sinn Fin program, while the Social Democrats and Labor Party (STLP) supported it.
After it was rejected, the ministers accepted Mr Swan’s recommendations without a formal vote.
Following the meeting, Mr Swan tweeted: “I am pleased that Exec accepted my paper tonight, including immediate guidance for all but the essential journeys between NI and GB / ROI, and asked all newcomers here to isolate themselves for 10 days.
“Additional work is needed for a legal and logistically legal travel ban – important items and essential travel for the NI must be protected.”
Ahead of the executive meeting, Sinn Fin Finance Minister Connor Murphy expressed “astonishment and surprise” that Mr Swan did not immediately move to trigger a travel ban between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.
Mr Murphy called on Mr Swan to reconsider his position on the paper.
Earlier on Monday, DUP Chief Minister Arlene Foster warned of dire consequences if a travel ban was imposed.
Ms Foster warned that a new strain of the corona virus had already arrived and that supply chains could be endangered by restricting travel.
“It’s very simple to say, ‘Let’s close Northern Ireland,'” Ms Foster said.
“It simply came to our notice then.
“I have always tried to be proportionate and balanced in everything I have done through this crisis and I will continue to do so.”
On Monday evening, Sinn F துணைin Deputy Prime Minister Michael O’Neill tweeted: “We are facing a very bad situation.
“There is no time (sic) to accept a travel ban from Britain. Belfast and Dublin must work together to keep everyone on the island safe.”
His party leader, Mary Lou McDonald, tweeted a similar message.
Sir Patrick Valens, Scientific Adviser to the Government of the United Kingdom, previously had a “reinforced” view now that the contrast strain was spreading very quickly.
Fears of a new variant effectively led to some -40 countries Disconnects travel with England It has also tightened travel rules within the UK.
Health officials Greater Manchester and the West Midlands With stricter restrictions coming in from parts of the UK – and travelers from Wales – to insist on “assuming” that they have a new mutation and 10 days of self-isolation.