virus fears Sinn Féin criticise Government's 'weak' approach to travel from Denmark after mutated strain of Covid outbreak
SINN Féin has criticised the different rules on both sides of the border for people travelling from Denmark after a new strain of Covid-19 emerged there.
Its Transport spokesman Darren O'Rourke’s comments come as a ban was put on people travelling to Northern Ireland from Denmark while "much looser restrictions" remain in place in the Republic.
Mr O'Rourke called on Transport Minister Eamon Ryan to immediately address the conflicting advice for those travelling from Denmark onto the island of Ireland.
Mr O'Rourke said: “A travel ban on all visitors coming from Denmark came into force in the north of Ireland and Britain over the weekend.
“This was in response to the outbreak in humans of a mutated form of Covid-19 linked to mink farms there.
“While this mutated strain may not be more severe in humans than the current virus, we simply do not know at this stage, and therefore we should be pro-active instead of re-active until more information is available."
He claimed: “Instead of taking a similar decision and ensuring we have an all-Ireland approach, Minister Ryan has bizarrely opted for extremely loose restrictions here in comparison to requirements north of the border.
“This shows no lessons have been learned when it comes to harmonising public health restrictions across our island during this pandemic, and also that international travel continues to be a blind spot for this government when it comes to Covid-19."
Mr O'Rourke said it “makes sense to follow the approach in the north and Britain where they have now banned all visitors from Denmark, while citizens returning home will have to self-isolate with their family for 14-days."
He said the requirement here to restrict movements for 14 days is "extremely weak in comparison, particularly when you consider 82pc of those who fill in the Passenger Locator Form are not followed up on."
Mr O'Rourke said more than 1,000 people arrived here from Denmark last month.
“This is not an insignificant number and so Minister Eamon Ryan needs to reverse his decision and introduce the same rules as the north, to try and prevent the importation of this mutated form of Covid-19 onto our island,” The Meath East TD said.
The DUP has joined Sinn Féin in saying that the Republic should ban travel from Denmark as the UK has done.
The party's health spokesperson, Pam Cameron MLA, said: "The UK has rightly taken the tough decision to temporarily close our borders to Denmark."
She said it's " important and necessary that we take steps to protect our population from any potential threat from this new strain of Covid-19.
"The onus now is on the Republic of Ireland's Government to also take this precautionary and responsible step," she added.
Her party colleague Jonathan Buckley said the Republic should bring in similar restrictions to the UK until there's more definitive information about the Danish outbreak.
He added: "In the meantime, Northern Ireland bound travellers from airports or ports in the Republic of Ireland must be made fully aware of the safety measures in place."
Mr Buckley added: "I know the Chief Medical Officer and Executive Ministers will be working closely with their counterparts elsewhere in the UK and in Dublin and those discussions must continue as we seek to mitigate any risk moving forward."