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Late-night NI Executive meeting called to discuss potential travel ban from Britain

Michelle O’Neill said there is “no time to lose in agreeing a travel ban”.

Michelle O'Neill speaking at a press conference earlier this month.
Michelle O'Neill speaking at a press conference earlier this month.
Image: PA

A LATE-NIGHT meeting of the Northern Ireland Executive has been called to discuss a potential travel ban from Britain to NI.

Health Minister Robin Swann has circulated a paper to executive colleagues feeding back from his consultation with the attorney general on the legalities of imposing travel restrictions in response to the Covid-19 variant in Britain.

It is understood that Swann has recommended issuing guidance advising against non-essential travel between Northern Ireland and Great Britain, and the North and the Republic. 

The minister has also advised that anyone arriving into the region self-isolate for ten days.

Swann is also understood to have called for further preparatory work to examine legal issues around the potential of introducing a formal travel ban.

Northern Ireland’s Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill called for the meeting earlier this evening. She said there is “no time to lose” in agreeing a travel ban.

The meeting had originally been set for 9am on Tuesday.

O’Neill tweeted: “We are facing a very grave situation. The Executive must meet tonight. There is no time to lose in agreeing a travel ban from Britain.

Belfast and Dublin must act together to keep everyone on this island safe.

Her comments come as First Minister Arlene Foster warned that closing Northern Ireland to travellers from the rest of the UK would have serious ramifications.

Ireland imposed a ban on travel from Britain for a period of 48 hours from midnight on Sunday.

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The suspension will be in place for at least 48 hours in an effort to stop the spread of the new coronavirus strain to Ireland. 

The measure is being reviewed tonight by the Cabinet Covid-19 committee and will be discussed further by a meeting of the Cabinet tomorrow.

With reporting by Orla Dwyer. 

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