Belfast politician will not holiday in Italy if official guidance advises against it

Paula Bradshaw says everyone should follow spirit and letter of guidance

Paula Bradshaw: “I love Italy, and look forward to travelling there again when it is safe to do so!” File photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Paula Bradshaw: “I love Italy, and look forward to travelling there again when it is safe to do so!” File photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

 

The health spokesperson of Northern Ireland’s Alliance Party has said she will not go on holiday while guidance against non-essential travel remains in place.

Paula Bradshaw revealed in radio interviews on Monday that she intended to travel to Italy for a family holiday on Saturday, saying the guidance was “advice, it’s not something that we’re mandated to do.”

However Ms Bradshaw changed her position in a statement issued shortly afterwards. “I should be clear,” she said, “when I said I would operate within the guidance, that obviously includes not travelling if the regulations and guidance at the time state I should not do so. That is currently the case.

“It is important everyone, particularly in representative roles, adheres both to the spirit and letter of that guidance,” she said.

The NI Direct government website states that people are “strongly advised not to book foreign travel or travel abroad unless it is essential.”

However Italy is included on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s list of countries which are exempt from the restrictions on essential travel, and people returning to the UK from Italy are not required to self-quarantine for 14 days.

The North’s First Minister, Arlene Foster, said it was “not up to me to tell people should they go or should they not go.”

It is understood Ms Bradshaw, who is an MLA for South Belfast and a member of the Stormont health committee, made the decision independently after discussion with her family, and was not instructed to do so by her party.

The Irish Times was unable to make contact with Ms Bradshaw on Monday.

The Alliance Party leader, Naomi Long, said on Twitter that Ms Bradshaw had “said she would follow the regs [regulations] and guidance and I have no doubt she will. Like most of us, you can’t know what that is until the day prior to travel.”

Speaking to reporters on Monday, Ms Foster said there were around 60 countries on Northern Ireland’s so-called green list which people were permitted to travel to and from without the need for self-isolation.

“If they have booked a holiday and they [the country] are on the green or amber list then they can go without having to quarantine when they come back.

“Whether they go or not is entirely a matter for their own judgment,” she said.

Ms Bradshaw told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland that she and her family were due to travel to Italy on Saturday, departing from Dublin airport.

On their return they will “go straight to the car park and head north” and will follow guidelines in their home town.

“We will do what is needed to protect everyone,” she said.

When asked about the Government advice not to travel unless it was essential, Ms Bradshaw replied: “It’s advice, it’s not something that we’re mandated to do.”

Her family will perform their civic duty when they return, she said. Ms Bradshaw said her 17-year-old daughter works as a cleaner in a care home and she will self-quarantine on her return.

“We won’t put anyone in jeopardy.”

Ms Bradshaw said that guidelines in the North have not yet been signed off because full information was not available. There were “massive absurdities” around the issue, but there were measures that could be taken such as temperature testing and contact tracing.

A consistent approach was required for the whole of the island of Ireland, she said.

She told BBC Radio Ulster’s Stephen Nolan Show that she was “not breaking any laws”, adding that “the guidance is there around all of those measures and we as a family have weighed it up.” -Additional reporting PA.