Exemption of travellers from island of Ireland from UK 14-day quarantine welcomed

Arlene Foster describes exemption as a ‘generous move by the UK government’

Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster urged the public not to try to pre-empt the lifting of  Covid-19 restrictions. Photograph:  Kelvin Boyes/Press Eye/PA Wire

Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster urged the public not to try to pre-empt the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions. Photograph: Kelvin Boyes/Press Eye/PA Wire

 

Travellers from Ireland will be exempt from the 14-day self-isolation period which is to be introduced in the UK from June 8th.

The measures, which were announced by the UK government on Friday to prevent the spread of coronavirus, will not apply to people arriving from the island of Ireland.

The North’s first minister, Arlene Foster, welcomed the exemption of the Common Travel Area from the restrictions and described it as a “generous move by the UK government”.

She said it was something she hoped “the Republic of Ireland government will also implement as well so that we can make sure people can travel across the British Isles”.

The quarantine period for arrivals from outside the Common Travel Area will apply across the UK, including Northern Ireland, though as a devolved administration it will be responsible for setting its own enforcement policies.

Minister for Health Simon Harris, said on Friday that anyone arriving into Ireland from overseas would be required to self-isolate for 14 days and must provide the government with their contact details by completing a Public Health Passenger Locator Form. People from Northern Ireland will have to fill out part of the form.

Discussions about the measures, he said, were ongoing with ministerial counterparts in Belfast and London.

The Department of Health (DoH) in Northern Ireland reported three further coronavirus-related deaths on Friday, bringing the total number of deaths recorded by the DoH in the North to 504.

A further 23 positive cases of coronavirus were identified, with total cases now standing at 4,504.

Hospital deaths

Figures released by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) showed that the number of coronavirus-related deaths registered in Northern Ireland fell for its third consecutive week, as of the week ending May 15th.

NISRA recorded 664 deaths involving coronavirus up until that date, 40 per cent more than the number reported by the DoH in their daily statistical bulletin, which noted 472 deaths in the same period.

The DoH figures include all deaths recorded by Health and Social Care (HSC) Trusts where there has been a positive test for coronavirus. These are mainly hospital deaths.

The NISRA figures are released weekly and are based on death registration. They cover deaths in all settings and include all fatalities which mention coronavirus on the death certificate, whether or not there was a positive test for Covid-19.

According to NISRA, just over half of the coronavirus-related deaths in the North in the week ending May 15th took place in care homes. 32 - 52.5 per cent - were in care homes, 27 were in hospital, one was in a hospice and one was at a residential address.

It is the fourth week that there have been more deaths in care homes than in hospitals in Northern Ireland. However the number of care home fatalities has fallen for the second week in a row.

Speaking at the Northern Executive’s daily coronavirus briefing on Friday, Ms Foster said it was not yet time to relax restrictions further and urged people to continue to observe social distancing guidelines ahead of a bank holiday weekend in the North.

“Do not try to pre-empt the lifting of other restrictions,” she said. “Your patience and behaviour has driven down the R [reproduction]rate, and that is the key to the lifting of more restrictions.”