Two bars ordered to close and more schools report cases
A Co Fermanagh man has been fined £1,000 for flouting strict quarantine rules after returning home from the Balearic islands.
Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd on Wednesday confirmed the PSNI had issued the fine, adding the management of the regulations for people arriving into Northern Ireland were a matter for the UK Border Force.
The man is understood to have spent time on one of the islands before returning home. It is understood the penalty was issued after he went out socialising in Enniskillen at the weekend before testing positive for Covid-19.
His fine comes after Northern Ireland businesswoman Fraser Nolan was recently jailed for a month after breaking quarantine rules on the Isle of Man.
She had been given permission to visit the island to take care of her late mother’s estate but ended up arrested after going on a bus to visit a locksmith.
Regulations require anyone entering Northern Ireland from countries outside the UK and Republic not ‘green lit’ by Stormont to self-isolate for a fortnight.
On Wednesday the Executive was facing pressure to reconsider quarantine rules for Greece after Scotland and Wales introduced new measures over concerns about rising coronavirus cases.
The Scottish government announced on Tuesday that travellers from Greece would have to self-isolate for 14 days from Thursday, while Wales also began asking arrivals from Zante to begin a period of quarantine.
First Minister Arlene Foster said the Executive would be briefed on updated rules, but she added that travel was “not a factor in community transmission in Northern Ireland”.
Mr Todd confirmed the £1,000 fine had been implemented for a breach of travel regulations.
“The management of the regulations is a matter for UK Border Force and their associated partners,” he added.
“The police’s role is to respond to reports from the UK Border Force or any of their associated partners of potential breaches, but the police will also act on any significant concerns raised by members of the public.”
He stressed that the PSNI’s role remained “to engage, explain, encourage and, only where necessary, enforce.”
“Everyone needs to continue to follow the government’s guidance to help suppress the transmission of the virus and support our NHS,” he continued.
“It is encouraging to see that there has been a high level of compliance since the introduction of the mandatory quarantine on travellers coming into Northern Ireland from restricted countries and I hope that continues.”
Separately, the police on Wednesday served two bars in north Belfast with prohibition notices for breaching Covid-19 regulations.
The news came as two secondary schools became the latest educational establishments to report cases of coronavirus.
It is understood the cases were diagnosed in pupils at De La Salle College in west Belfast and Larne Grammar School.
According to reports, a sixth-form pupil tested positive for the virus at De La Salle.
In a letter to parents and guardians seen by this paper, De La Salle college principal Claire White said a “member of the school community” had been diagnosed with the virus and advice had been sought from the Public Health Agency (PHA).
Mrs White said that, in line with the official regulations, close contacts of the individual have been informed they need to self-isolate.
A classroom and study area have been closed for 72 hours to undergo a deep-clean.
Pupils and staff affected will also be advised separately by the PHA, the letter added.
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Mrs White said she could not confirm if the individual who tested positive was a staff member or pupil due to confidentiality reasons. She added, however, that a system had already been put in place to deal with such situations.
Wednesday was only the second day the school was fully open to pupils following the lifting of lockdown.
“Ensuring the safety of pupils and staff is my absolute priority and I will continue to monitor this situation carefully and keep you informed,” Mrs White concluded in her letter to parents and guardians.
Larne Grammar school, meanwhile, announced a pupil had tested positive for Covid-19.
In a letter to parents and guardians, principal Jonathan Wylie said the pupil concerned had not been on school grounds since August 27, six days before they received their positive diagnosis.
Mr Wylie said he had contacted the Education Authority and the PHA and had been advised that no further action was needed from the school.
He added that, in the event of a positive case in the school community, the PHA’s contact tracing team will seek to identify those who have been in “close contact” with the individual who tested positive — i.e. someone who has been within two metres of the person for more than 15 minutes from 48 hours before the onset of symptoms.
“On this basis, no other pupil or member of staff is required to take any further action at this time and the school will continue to operate as normal,” Mr Wylie said.
“Ensuring the safety of pupils and staff remains my priority. I will continue to monitor this situation carefully and keep you informed, if necessary.”