Coronavirus: Restrictions imposed on people returning from Spain and Italy

Anyone returning from Italy and Spain will be met by health workers at airport

All people coming back from Spain and Italy from today will be asked to restrict their movements for the next two weeks, which includes not going to work, the Minister for Health Simon Harris has said.

The decision was made following a meeting last night of the National Public Health Emergency Team.

Anyone returning from Italy and Spain will be met by environmental health workers on their return at the airport and told to restrict their movements. They will be asked "not quite to self isolate, but to restrict their movements," he told RTÉ radio's Morning Ireland.

The Department of Foreign Affairs is advising Irish citizens to avoid non essential travel to Spain while citizens are advised not to travel to Italy at all.


On its website the department advises that a “significant number of cases of novel coronavirus (Covid-19) have been confirmed in Spain. The highest incidences are in Madrid, Vitoria and Labastida in the Basque Country, Catalonia and the Rioja region. For the moment, we recommend that non essential travel to Spain be avoided.” For those who are already in Spain, the department advises people to monitor developments regularly and follow the advice of local authorities.

Spain has over 2,000 cases and its government reported 84 deaths on Friday morning, up from 47 on Wednesday.


Meanwhile, Irish racing enthusiasts returning from the Cheltenham festival will be interviewed at airports in the context of preventing the spread of coronavirus.

The Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said the government planned to introduce new "health interviews" at airports and ports in a bid to control the virus.

He told Primetime on Thursday night that if Cheltenham was being held in Ireland it would not “be on quite frankly but it is”.

Asked about the huge numbers of punters who would be returning from the festival in coming days he said: “We have committed today in government that we are going to introduce new health interviews if you like in our airports and ports so that people who are coming into Ireland will effectively be informed and have a health conversation around Covid-19 before they enter the country including the people coming back from Cheltenham”.

He said the Government's plan, announced on Thursday, to try and stop the spread of the virus which will include closing schools and limiting mass gatherings, had been worked on in the Department of Health until 3am.

Kingston Mills, Professor of Experimental Immunology, School of Biochemistry and Immunology at TCD said nearly all the cases of Covid-19 so far in the Republic had been imported, primarily from Northern Italy or were connected to those who returned from the region. He believed the State should have stopped travel from Northern Italy earlier than we did. And he was concerned “we are still not controlling the travel”.

“It’s all very well to delay the spread within a country but if you continue to allow people to come into that country from other countries such as now France, Germany, Spain where there is high level of disease and you don’t put any ... I think it now needs to be more stringent. For example Israel has a population of 8 million people, they have 100 cases, they have asked everybody who comes into the country to self quarantine for 14 days,” he said.

Mr Coveney stressed that Israel was not in the EU and said he had issued travel advice now “essentially telling people not to go to Italy or to Spain except for essential travel”.

Asked if it had been a mistake to allow Italians travel to Ireland at the same time as the Ireland-Italy rugby match was cancelled recently, he said the advice from the World Health Organisation was and is that we should not be shutting down aviation between countries. "We as ever in facing this challenge have followed the advice of our public health professionals," he said.