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Here's the advice so far for those who were due to travel from Britain to Ireland

New restrictions will come into effect at midnight and will remain in place for an initial period of 48 hours before being reviewed.

Image: Leah Farrell

RYANAIR HAS SAID customers who had booked flights to and from Britain between now and Christmas Eve will be offered “practical alternatives” including free rescheduling and refunds. 

The airline has released a statement following the Irish government’s announcement that flights and passenger ferries from Britain to Ireland will be suspended for 48 hours in an effort to stop the spread of a new coronavirus strain to Ireland.

The restrictions will come into effect at midnight and will remain in place for an initial period of 48 hours before being reviewed. 

Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan has said that flights will not be coming from Britain and only ferries carrying haulage will be permitted.

Ferry companies will be restricted to carrying non-haulage passengers but will allow essential travel. 

Ryanair has said all affected customers who had flights booked between 20 and 24 December will receive an email notification and will “be offered practical alternatives including free moves or refunds if they so wish.”

The airline said there will be no charge for rescheduling flights. 

For flights to and from the Britain that are permitted to fly, Ryanair said it will operate these flights to facilitate all passengers who need to travel for business reasons, and are booked on them or who wish to move to these flights. 

If passengers who are booked on flights that are allowed travel don’t wish to travel for the next five days, the airline said it will facilitate a free rescheduling of bookings until 15 March. 

Aer Lingus has also confirmed that it will not operate flights from the UK to the Republic of Ireland during the period of restrictions.

In a statement, Aer Lingus said it is “operating flights from the Republic of Ireland to the UK in order to facilitate the repatriation of customers to the UK and those with connecting flights in the UK”. 

Customers affected by cancelled flights are to be contacted directly by Aer Lingus and can avail of a refund, voucher, or rerouting at a later date.

“Aer Lingus continues to liaise with the Department of Transport, other Government Departments and the relevant authorities as required,” the statement said. 

Speaking to Virgin Media News this evening, Minister Ryan said that Ireland would follow the restrictions on flights put in place by other European countries, including the Netherlands, Italy and Belgium, “on a precautionary basis”.

He said that mechanisms will be set up to repatriate any passengers who are in transit or find themselves in difficulties.

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The decision will be reviewed by Cabinet on Tuesday morning.

Irish Ferries, meanwhile, said travel credit can be issued for people who had crossings booked for Monday and Tuesday and has advised affected customers to contact the company from tomorrow to arrange travel credit or to rearrange travel, subject to availability. 

In a statement this evening, a spokesperson for the government said that “in response to the identification of a new strain of Covid-19 in the South-East of England, the Government has announced a ban on all flights arriving into Ireland from Great Britain with effect from midnight tonight”.

“The Taoiseach, the Tánaiste, the Minister for Transport and the Minister for Health had detailed discussions on Sunday and announced that in the interests of Public Health, people in Britain, regardless of nationality, should not travel to Ireland, by air or by sea,” the statement said.

The government intends to coordinate with authorities in Northern Ireland as the restrictions are put in place.

“Arrangements are being put in place to facilitate the repatriation of Irish residents on short trips to Great Britain and planning to return in the coming days, as well as international travellers to Ireland who are transiting through Great Britain,” the spokesperson for the government said. 

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