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Coronavirus: New working group to ensure airline travel issues in Northern Ireland are addressed

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The Stormont Executive is to set up a working group to help ensure the smooth travel of airline passengers during the Covid-19 pandemic. (Liam McBurney/PA)

The Stormont Executive is to set up a working group to help ensure the smooth travel of airline passengers during the Covid-19 pandemic. (Liam McBurney/PA)

PA

The Stormont Executive is to set up a working group to help ensure the smooth travel of airline passengers during the Covid-19 pandemic. (Liam McBurney/PA)

The Stormont Executive is to set up a working group to help ensure the smooth travel of airline passengers during the Covid-19 pandemic.

It follows the announcement from Prime Minister Boris Johnston that passengers coming into the UK will be required to isolate for two weeks, although those arriving from France and the Republic would be exempt.

But officials in the Republic have insisted a similar exemption will not be reciprocated for people travelling to the Republic from Great Britain.

Sinn Fein junior minister Declan Kearney told the Executive's daily Covid-19 press conference that Stormont has been working closely with London and Dublin over air travel.

"Conversations were held last week in relation to how this particular issue would and should be addressed. There is an acceptance amongst all the administrations that there is effectively a common travel area between these islands, that's the appropriate stance to adapt.

"However, individuals who would travel into these islands from abroad will then be expected to accept a two week lockdown and isolation period.

"We have made the point to the British Government that in circumstances where perhaps someone has travelled into Britain from continental Europe or elsewhere who may then travel on to a destination in the 26 counties that their details are shared with authorities in the south in order to maintain a consistency in their approach to dealing with individuals who should be adhering to a two week isolation."

DUP junior minister Gordon Lyons added: "There will be a working group set up to ensure the proper exceptions are in place. It is obviously important that the common travel area is maintained and that will require further conversations with our own government and the Irish Government as well."

Meanwhile, in the Republic it has emerged that gardai will be given the power to check up on air passengers arriving from overseas. This could include gardai calling to the addresses of passengers to ensure they are self-isolating for two weeks after their arrival.

Strict new regulations are being drafted to make it a legal requirement for anyone arriving in the Republic to self-isolate and give the authorities details of where they will be staying.

Using emergency legislation to allow gardai to police the new rules is a key proposal in the plans being discussed by senior ministers.

Belfast Telegraph