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Quarantining visitors from Britain will be commercial suicide, says NI tourism chief

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NI Tourism Alliance chief executive Joanne Stuart

NI Tourism Alliance chief executive Joanne Stuart

NI Tourism Alliance chief executive Joanne Stuart

A quarantine for travellers from Britain arriving in Northern Ireland would be "commercial suicide" for the tourism sector here, an industry body has said.

NI Tourism Alliance chief executive Joanne Stuart was speaking after the Health Minister was advised by senior officials that travellers from across the Irish Sea pose the biggest risk of bringing new cases of the coronavirus.

Robin Swann said he wants to see decisions around travel restrictions resolved by the Executive today.

Advice from chief medical and scientific officers has warned the minister that the substantially higher rates of Covid-19 in the rest of the UK mean a "somewhat enhanced risk of infection" being reintroduced.

From tomorrow air bridges will mean passengers entering England from dozens of countries will not have to quarantine.

The position here remains that travellers arriving from outside the UK and Republic must quarantine for 14 days.

The latest advice has raised major concern in the industry.

"Any quarantine would be commercial suicide," Dr Stuart told BBC Radio Ulster.

"We have a huge reliance on the GB market.

"We have already had travel between GB and Northern Ireland and this would be a retrograde step.

"We want to see the evidence. Any quarantine would give the message we do not want to see people from GB coming into Northern Ireland. The Executive needs to think very, very carefully."

Belfast International Airport chief executive Graham Keddie described the fact the issue is only being raised now as "astonishing".

"We've restarted operating seven routes to the UK. Why is this being talked about now? Why not 12 or 14 weeks ago?" he said.

"There's despair. People are not just driving a stake through the heart of aviation, they're nailing the coffin down as tight as they can."

Belfast Telegraph