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Dublin: 6°C Thursday 13 May 2021

CMOs make joint appeal to stop 'all but necessary' cross-border travel

Ronan Glynn and Michael McBride also made a specific appeal to young people to reduce social contacts.

Michael McBride (L) and Ronan Glynn (R). (File photo)
Michael McBride (L) and Ronan Glynn (R). (File photo)
Image: PA Images

THE TWO CHIEF Medical Officers on both sides of the border have appealed to people to avoid “all but necessary travel across the border”. 

The call from Dr Ronan Glynn and his Northern Ireland counterpart Dr Michael McBride comes amid a stark rise in Covid-19 cases in Donegal and across the border in Derry, Fermanagh and Tyrone. 

Last night, Donegal was moved to Level 3 restrictions after the incidence rate of the virus in the country was judged to be the highest in the country.

In the Lifford-Stranorlar local electoral area, the incidence rate is over five times greater than the average incidence rate across the entire country.

Similar spikes have been seen in nearby areas within Northern Ireland, leading to today’s call from the CMOs. 

“Given the current number of new cases in Donegal and neighbouring areas of NI in Derry, Strabane and Fermanagh we would appeal to everyone to avoid all but necessary travel across the border,” the statement said.

It is also recommended that employers on both sides of the border make every effort to facilitate employees to work from home in so far as is possible. We realise that for those living in border areas this will not be welcome news but we must prevent further spread of this virus and we can only do so by working together to protect each other.

An Garda Síochána has said from midnight it will recommence Operation Fanacht, which will involve both checkpoints and high visibility patrols to encourage members of the public to comply with public health advice.

“An Garda Síochána wants to remind everyone that people are being encouraged not to travel out of or into the county of Donegal unless absolutely necessary,” the force said in a statement today.

Extra personnel will be brought in from Leitrim and Sligo to assist with the targeted patrols and checkpoints. 

“An Garda Síochána will also continue to work in co-operation with the Police Service of Northern Ireland to support public health efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19 on the island of Ireland through rolling cross-border checkpoints in relevant locations.”

Taoiseach Micheál Martin had said that health authorities in both areas would continue to work together and Glynn and McBride met this morning to discuss the situation. 

The Department of Health says that meeting underlined the need for ongoing cooperation and said this would be strengthened, not just in Derry and Donegal but in all border counties. 

Glynn and McBride also made a direct appeal to young people due to the prevalence of cases within younger age groups in Derry and Donegal. 

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They “appealed to teenagers and those in their twenties and thirties in particular to reduce their social contacts”, the department said. 

- With reporting by Michelle Hennessy.

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Rónán Duffy

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