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People from NI crossing border ‘without valid reason’ face fines

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Patrol: Gardai conduct a Covid-19 checkpoint

Patrol: Gardai conduct a Covid-19 checkpoint

Patrol: Gardai conduct a Covid-19 checkpoint

Gardai can ask people travelling into the Republic from Northern Ireland to return home and may ultimately fine them in future, according to an Irish minister.

Irish Environment Minister Eamon Ryan, was speaking at yesterday's announcement of new Covid-19 regulations in the Republic. The leader of Ireland's Green Party added that the "objective" was to reduce the volume of traffic.

Gardai would eventually fine drivers from Northern Ireland, he appeared to suggest.

Mr Ryan said: "There is provision for someone coming down from the North, that they (gardai) can ask someone to turn back, and we're looking to actually strengthen that (so) that we have the same fining capability in terms of traffic coming from whatever different direction."

Mr Ryan was speaking alongside Taoiseach Micheal Martin and Tanaiste Leo Varadkar as it was announced that the Republic's Level 5 restrictions will continue until March 5.

Mr Ryan said: "You have to make sure that international travel is in collaboration with our colleagues in Northern Ireland, with the UK Government, with the European Union and beyond.

"Among the decisions that we make today is one to make sure that the current travel regulations applicable to persons who travel into Ireland from overseas also applies with respect to passengers who route their journeys via Northern Ireland. We're going to amend the passenger location regulations to require all inbound passengers, including those going on to Northern Ireland, to provide place of residence address on the form.

"We're going to conclude arrangements with Northern Ireland, regarding data-sharing, and follow up with the passengers who travel to Ireland via Northern Ireland."

Mr Ryan had said earlier that there would be increased Garda checks near the border, although it was "a matter for the PSNI" whether similar checks would be in place on the other side.

He told RTE: "If on a road south of the border, 5km from the border, someone's on that road and doesn't have a valid explanation as to why they're travelling, they will be subject to prosecution and fine."

Mr Martin did admit that the border "cannot be sealed" but a "strong policy of suppression of the virus" may work instead.

The new measures include mandatory quarantine at a designated facility for people who arrive in the Republic without a negative PCR test taken in the past 72 hours. Visa-free short term travel from South Africa and South America is suspended until at least March 5, he added.

"In other cases, people will be required to quarantine at home," Mr Martin said. He added: "These regulations will apply to anyone who travels into Ireland, from an airport or port on the island, including ports and airports in Northern Ireland."

According to the Taoiseach, Stormont and Dublin officials have discussed data sharing in terms of the passengers coming into Ireland.

UK ministers are holding talks about making travellers coming to England quarantine in hotels, with an announcement expected soon.

Stormont Health Minister Robin Swann has written a letter to the First and Deputy First Minister calling for the quarantining of travellers to Northern Ireland.

Arlene Foster said a four-nations approach was being taken to the issue. She added: "As yet, a Cobra call has not taken place on that issue."

Belfast Telegraph


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