Covid-19: Government rejects British minister’s claim of quarantine ‘review’

Travellers from Britain will have to self-isolate like everyone else, says spokesperson

Britain’s Northern secretary Brandon Lewis told MPs  the issue was ‘under review’  and he hoped  travellers from Britain would be exempted from this requirement because of the Common Travel Area.  Photograph: Peter Summers/Getty Images

Britain’s Northern secretary Brandon Lewis told MPs the issue was ‘under review’ and he hoped travellers from Britain would be exempted from this requirement because of the Common Travel Area. Photograph: Peter Summers/Getty Images

 

The Government has flatly denied a suggestion by British secretary of state for Northern Ireland Brandon Lewis that it is reviewing the requirement for travellers from Britain into the State to quarantine for 14 days on arrival amid Covid-19 restrictions.

Mr Lewis told MPs on Thursday that the issue was “under review” by the Irish Government and he hoped that travellers from Britain would be exempted from this requirement because of the Common Travel Area (CTA) between the two regions.

But an Irish Government spokesman said: “It is not under review. The 14-day self-isolation is required.”

Minister for State for European Affairs Helen McEntee also told RTÉ: “I can categorically say that is not the case. I’m not sure where that has come from.”

The 14-day quarantine requirement, she said, was in place for everyone entering the State, including Irish citizens. It was imposed on medical advice, she added.

British plan

The British government is planning to introduce a similar quarantine requirement but has said it would exempt people travelling from within the Common Travel Area, which allows free movement between Ireland and Britain.

I certainly would like to see that Common Travel Area fully respected and exempted from this

“This [the quarantine requirement for travellers from Britain] is an issue that is under review at the moment by the Irish Government,” Mr Lewis told the House of Commons Northern Ireland Affairs Committee. “We have put in place an exemption for the Common Travel Area. Our view is that we wanted to make sure we fully respected the CTA . . . but, as I said, we are waiting. The Irish Government has got this up for review at the moment, but I think for us it was important to fully respect, and have that full exemption for, the Common Travel Area.

“Let’s see what the outcome of that review is and take it forward from there. I certainly would like to see that Common Travel Area fully respected, fully endorsed and exempted from this.”

Mr Lewis was responding to a question from Conservative MP Robert Goodwill, who described the “asymmetric” application of the CTA as a threat to the arrangement.

“I hope you keep the pressure up,” he said.

Earlier, Mr Lewis played down reports that Britain had agreed with the EU to install inspection posts at ports to check goods moving from Britain to Northern Ireland. He said animal health rules had required “minimal checks since about the 19th century, but we’re not looking to put any kind of border down the Irish Sea”.