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Coronavirus: Several thousand Irish people could return from Canada in the coming days

The government is warning Irish people on short-term visas to strongly consider coming home.

The Irish government says there are thousands of Irish people in Canada on short-term visas.
The Irish government says there are thousands of Irish people in Canada on short-term visas.
Image: Nathan Denette/PA Images

SEVERAL THOUSAND IRISH people could return home from Canada in the coming days, as the Irish government warns those on short-term visas to book flights now as soon as possible. 

The government is warning that 9,000 Irish people with short-term visas should strongly consider travelling back to Ireland because of the measures introduced by the Canadian government to stop the spread of Covid-19. 

There have been around 7,500 reported cases of Covid-19 in Canada, with 92 deaths as of yesterday. 

The country has announced drastic restrictions on who can travel into Canada, while like other countries the government has demanded that citizens follow strict social distancing rules.

Canada is bracing for millions of job losses because of Covid-19 – with those on short-term visas thought to be particularly vulnerable to facing unemployment. 

A spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs told TheJournal.ie that there are around 9,000 Irish short-term visa holders in Canada, with most concentrated in Toronto and Vancouver.

Many of these people are on one or two-year working holiday or ‘international experience’ visas. 

“Due to measures put in place by the Canadian authorities to combat the spread of COVID-19 many short term visa holders are in imminent danger of being laid off,” the spokesperson said.

“Given this and increased travel restriction we are highly concerned about their welfare and vulnerability in what is an increasingly difficult situation,” they said.

Some flights are still running from Canada to Dublin and between Canadian airports and London. 

The spokesperson said:

There have been many calls to our Embassy in Ottawa and the Consulate in Vancouver from people who may not qualify for employment insurance, and who are wondering about their next steps. We have recommended that people in this situation travel back to Ireland while commercial flights are still available.

Anyone returning from Canada to Ireland will be asked to restrict their movements for 14 days. 

The Department of Foreign Affairs has been working to get Irish citizens from around the world home during the Covid-19 crisis. 

On Sunday, over 100 Irish people arrived back in Dublin from Peru on a repatriation flight. 

The government also confirmed today that US-chartered airlines had landed in Shannon on Monday with Irish people from Algeria and Ghana. 

A large number of Irish people are also currently living in Australia. “We have arranged to see a number of flights departing Australia over recent days and we have confidence that most of these will be taken off by our citizens or residents,” Elizabeth Canavan from the Department of the Taoiseach said at a press briefing yesterday. 

“We’re also exploring a number of options to help our citizens in New Zealand who want to return home to do so.”

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