Irish government considers new travel restrictions amid Delta variant concerns

·2-min read

The Irish Government is looking at new restrictions on people coming into Ireland from Britain to combat the spread of the Delta Covid variant, a minister has said.

The variant, which was first identified in India, is now the dominant strain in the UK and proving to be 60% more transmissible than the previously dominant Alpha strain.

In Northern Ireland, the Public Health Agency said last week that 111 probable and confirmed cases of the Delta variant have been detected throughout all 11 local council areas, 28 of them in Kilkeel in Co Down.

Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney told RTE’s This Week: “The numbers are concerning and we need to do what we can within reason to do what we can to protect people here.”

Coronavirus – Mon Jun 7, 2021
Surge testing took place in Kilkeel last week after a number of cases of the Delta variant were identified (Liam McBurney/PA)

Mr Coveney added: “I don’t want to announce anything today but we are looking at this seriously.

“Potentially longer quarantine periods particularly for people who aren’t vaccinated.”

Mr Coveney said he had spoken to Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly over the weekend and added: “We want to get the balance right to protect the Common Travel Area as best we can.”

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to announce on Monday that the final stage of easing controls in England – slated for June 21 – is to be put on hold for up to four weeks amid the surge in cases of the Delta variant.

Last week, Northern Ireland’s Health Minister Robin Swann said in a briefing document to Executive colleagues that “normality, as we knew it in 2019, is still some way off,” as he also warned over the spread of the variant.

His document warns of another possible “significant fresh surge” of positive cases and hospital admissions by late summer or early autumn.

Watch: Boris Johnson faces Tory backlash as lockdown lifting put on hold

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