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Coronavirus quarantine: Your questions answered on confusing Northern Ireland travel regulations


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Mark Bain answers some of the confusing questions about NI travel. (Brian Lawless/PA)

Mark Bain answers some of the confusing questions about NI travel. (Brian Lawless/PA)

PA

Mark Bain answers some of the confusing questions about NI travel. (Brian Lawless/PA)

Q. When do I need to self-isolate?

A. The Executive's advice states you should not travel unless it's essential, but this remains guidance only.

The regulations mean that you must self-isolate for 14 days if you return to Northern Ireland from a country outside the Common Travel Area (CTA) unless you are travelling from, or transiting through, a low to medium-risk country that is exempt.

The CTA includes the following places and only applies if you were there for 14 days or more: England, Scotland and Wales, the Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.

On July 10 an extensive list of exempt countries was published, including holiday destinations such as Australia, Cyprus, France, Spain, Germany, Italy, Jamaica, Barbados, and Turkey. This list is regularly updated.

All travellers are being warned that they will need to self-isolate if they were in, or if they transited through, a country that is not on the list in the 14 days before their return to the CTA.

This applies to all travel to Northern Ireland by train, ferry, coach, air or any means of transport.

It also applies regardless of how you arrive in Northern Ireland - directly, via Ireland or via a UK region.

Stormont's green list of permitted destinations is updated every three weeks to give clarity to people if they want to travel, hence First Minister Arlene Foster's comments: "It's not for me to tell people if they should go or not go on holiday.

"If they've booked a holiday and it is on a green or amber list, then they can go without having to quarantine when they come back."

You may be fined £60 if you refuse to provide passenger information on arrival.

If you need to quarantine, you could be fined £1,000 if you leave the location where you are self-isolating without reasonable excuse, and you could face further action.

Q. What happens if I arrive in Dublin from overseas before returning to NI?

A. The confusion is why Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill is calling for an island-wide approach to travel.

Passengers arriving in Dublin must complete a public health passenger locator form. The Irish Government issued this form to airlines and you should receive a copy before you arrive at Dublin Airport.

The completed form must be handed to immigration officers at passport control.

You may be contacted during the 14 days after you arrive in Ireland to check that you are self-isolating.

Anyone travelling to Ireland from the Irish government's green list areas will not have to restrict their movements. However, the UK is not yet on Ireland's green list.

The rules for arriving passengers do not apply if you are briefly stopping over at the airport on your way to another country or travelling onwards to Northern Ireland.

France, Spain and Portugal are also not yet included.

Those arriving in Dublin but travelling immediately to Northern Ireland will fill in part of the form and when they cross the border will be subject to Northern Ireland guidance.

Q. I don't want to travel, but my flight has not been cancelled. What do I do?

A. You are not automatically entitled to a refund from your airline if you do not want to or cannot travel and the flight has not been cancelled by the airline.

However, many airlines have made arrangements to waive the usual fees if you want to rebook at a later date. They may offer vouchers for use at a later date as an alternative.

Q. What if my flight is cancelled by the airline?

A. If your flight is cancelled, the airline must provide you with the option of a full cash refund, payable within seven days, or an alternative flight.

Q. Do I need a face mask at the airport or on the airplane?

A. Passengers are strongly recommended to wear face masks or face coverings at all times. It is, though, not deemed essential, according to current regulations. However, airlines such as EasyJet and Ryanair have a mandatory face mask policy on all flights.

Belfast Telegraph