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Coronavirus quarantine means air travel is months away yet: Varadkar

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Taoiseach Leo Varadkar speaking at a contact-tracing centre in Dublin

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar speaking at a contact-tracing centre in Dublin

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Taoiseach Leo Varadkar speaking at a contact-tracing centre in Dublin

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said the prospect of air travel from the Irish Republic is months rather than weeks away.

Everyone who arrives in the State to stay, whether Irish or from abroad, is being asked to self-isolate for 14 days to ensure that anyone with Covid-19 does not infect others. It comes amid calls for tougher laws to require people arriving into the country to tell authorities where they will be self-isolating.

Mr Varadkar said: "The very strong advice from Government is that anyone entering our country, whether they are an Irish citizen or not, needs to quarantine and self-isolate for 14 days, with the exception of certain key workers. We are going to strengthen that over the next few weeks."

He was speaking during a visit to a contact-tracing centre in Dublin yesterday.

"Of course we all look forward to air travel in the future," he added.

"We're an island nation and a globalised economy. We need to return to business and leisure travel at some point, but that really is premature at this stage.

"The European Union and the aviation authorities are thinking about that and how we can return to safe air travel, but that is months rather than weeks away." Mr Varadkar said he is more confident the country can begin to reopen from next week.

The coronavirus death toll in the Republic rose to 1,488 yesterday.

Meanwhile, DUP East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson has pressed Westminster to step up support for air connectivity between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

During Northern Ireland Questions, Mr Wilson said the lockdown "has called into question the very survival of some of our airports".

"We need the Government to stand alongside all our airports including Belfast International," he said.

After telling the Government the case for scrapping Air Passenger Duty now could not be stronger, he said: "With very few flights taking place, we also need to see the Government step in to ensure airlines which connect places like Northern Ireland to London and the rest of the UK are able to survive this crisis."

Belfast Telegraph