Simon Coveney was speaking on Morning Ireland this morning. Sam Boal/

Simon Coveney: There is little certainty 'beyond Friday' about where planes will be flying to

The Tánaiste said that flights between Ireland and the UK would not be shut down.

TÁNAISTE SIMON COVENEY has said that there is little certainty where airlines will be able to fly to beyond Thursday and Friday, as countries across Europe impose lockdowns and close borders in response to the Covid-19 crisis. 

Speaking on RTÉ Radio One’s Morning Ireland programme, Coveney stressed that there is significant uncertainly about where flights will actually go in the coming days.

“I don’t think there is any certainly beyond Thursday and Friday where planes will and won’t be flying,” Coveney said. 

The government has urged Irish people who wish to return home from Spain to get on a flight before midnight on Thursday. 

Spanish airports will remain open for a number of days to facilitate people leaving the country. 

Countries across the continent – which has been described as the epicentre of the viral outbreak by the World Health Organisation – have introduced lockdowns, travel restrictions and increased border checks as the virus continues to spread. 

In the US, President Donald Trump added Ireland and the UK to European travel ban in a bid to contain the virus. 

Coveney said that it was still safe to travel to the UK, but warned that “people should be cautious about travelling at all”.

However, he rejected any suggestion that flights to and from the UK could be grounded. 

“We are not planning to close airports and not planning to shut down flights between Ireland and the UK,” he said. 

Anyone who returns from Spain and Italy, the worst-affected European countries, will be met by health officials at the airport before having to restrict movements for two weeks. 

“Because of the pace of the spread, when people come home from these countries, they will get clear advice,” Coveney said. 

“We have an agreement now with the Spanish government,” he said, “to continue a schedule a flights to bring everyone home who wants to come home”. 

A Cabinet sub-committee on coronavirus will meet later today to discuss the next steps to tackle the virus. 

“We will issue a very clear statement after the Cabinet sub-committee today if there are further decisions,” Coveney said. 

“We won’t see any dramatic new decisions made today. You’ll see a refining of previous decisions.”

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