CONFIRMED: Ireland to impose travel ban from Britain from tonight

The Irish government has confirmed it is imposing a travel ban on people coming from Britain as fears grow over an aggressive new strain of coronavirus.

Sunday, 20th December 2020, 6:15 pm

In response to the identification of a new strain of Covid-19 plaguing parts of London and the South-East of England, the Irish Government has announced a ban on all flights arriving into Ireland from Great Britain with effect from midnight tonight, Sunday, 20 December 2020.

The Taoiseach, the Tánaiste, the Minister for Transport and the Minister for Health had detailed discussions on Sunday and announced that in the interests of Public Health, people in Britain, regardless of nationality, should not travel to Ireland, by air or by sea.

Flights are being banned for at least 48 hours. The ban is in place for tomorrow Monday, 21 December, and Tuesday 22 December, 2020 and will be reviewed by the Government at the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, 22 December 2020.

Dublin airport back in 2019. Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Ministers have engaged with the UK authorities and the Department of Transport has advised airlines of the ban.

There will be close coordination with the Northern Ireland authorities as these arrangements are put in place.

Ferry crossings between Ireland and Great Britain will continue in order to keep essential supply chains moving. The Government direction for people not to travel from Great Britain to Ireland does not extend to essential supply chain workers.

Arrangements are being put in place to facilitate the repatriation of Irish residents on short trips to Great Britain and planning to return in the coming days, as well as international travellers to Ireland who are transiting through Great Britain.

A number of European countries including Italy and the Netherlands have already banned inbound passengers from Britain and Ireland will now follow suit.

North of the border Stormont will hold a specially arranged emergency meeting tonight to discuss the unfolding situation in England and its own response.

Special measures have now been introduced across England, Scotland and Wales since the shock announcement on Saturday that the new strain is 70% more contagious than the known virus strain and that a new tier of restrictions banning travel into and out of the South East of England was being imposed effective as of midnight Saturday. Scotland meanwhile has closed its border with England to all but essential travel.

The emergency measures has resulted in the Christmas plans of millions of people being thrown into chaos.

Meanwhile a further 13 COVID-related deaths were recorded over the previous 24 hours in the north today with another 505 people testing positive for COVID-19.

Of these new positive cases, 31 were in the Derry & Strabane area. To date there have been over 7,700 positive COVID cases in the Derry & Strabane Council area.

Over the week to last Sunday, December 13, 170 positive tests have been recorded in BT47, which takes in the eastern area (Waterside) of the city and surrounding areas. In the BT48 (cityside) area there have been an additional 96 cases over the week.

Across the entire Derry & Strabane area over that period 36 of those testing positive were children and teenagers, while a further 107 were aged between 20 and 39. A further 95 positive cases were recorded in people aged 40 - 59; 36 in people aged 60-79 and 22 in people aged 80 and over.

Week-on-week figures show that in contrast to the first lockdown when schools were closed and the number of cases among young people was in single digits or zero, the number of children testing positive has shot up since schools reopened in September, although some other adult age groups are still higher in terms of cases. During one week in early October 2020 there were 212 children and teenagers who tested positive in Derry & Strabane and 200 more the following week.

In the Republic a further four COVID-related deaths and 764 more positive cases were recorded on Monday. 52 of those new cases were reported in Donegal, bringing the total number of positive cases in the county over the past fortnight to 420 - the second highest for any county behind Dublin.