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xmas blow Government considering two days of travel restrictions from Britain due to concerns about new strain of Covid-19

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The Government is considering a two days of restrictions on air and ferry travel from Britain over fears a new strain of Covid-19 will spread to Ireland.

The two days will be used to examine the impact of the new strain of the virus and restrictions will then be re-evaluated.

Cargo and some essential workers will continue to be allowed travel to and from the UK.

An announcement on the travel restrictions are expected later this afternoon. Legal issues on the travel ban are being examined by officials. The exact timing of the restrictions is still being discussed - but it is believed they will be implemented very soon.

Senior Government source said they believe the new strain of the virus may already be in the Republic of Ireland and said there have been confirmed cases in the North.

It comes as Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said the Government will be issuing advice on travel to and from Britain. Mr Donnelly also said “very strong advice” on travelling to Northern Ireland will also be issued.

The Prime Minister Boris Johnson has banned travel in and out of the South East of the country and introduced lockdown measures for the Christmas period.

Belgium, the Netherlands and Italy have banned British travellers from flying into their airports over fears of the new coronavirus strain spreading among citizens. Scotland has also stopped people travelling to and from England.

Speaking on The Week on RTÉ Radio One, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said that a detailed government announcement on travel to the UK will be made later on this afternoon.

“I expect that the Irish government will make an announcement later on today on travel restrictions.

“We are worried about [the new coronavirus variant],” said Mr Donnelly.

“We are very concerned about it and we’ll be making an announcement today on potential travel restrictions.”

Public health officials are currently in a meeting considering new travel restrictions and Minister Donnelly said that he has been talking to CMO Dr Tony Holohan, Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Transport Minister Eamon Ryan.

He said that “very strong advice” regarding travelling to the UK and Northern Ireland is likely to be issued, but that officials are not considering sealing the border “physically”.

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