Health Minister Robin Swann has requested an Executive meeting following the decision to introduce quarantine for anyone travelling to Northern Ireland from Spain.
Mr Swann wants Ministers to discuss what support or advice may be required for those facing an unexpected period of quarantining.
He stated: “The decision to introduce quarantining for people arriving from Spain was taken to reduce the risk of Covid-19 spreading in NI.
“I fully understand that the announcement on Saturday night will have caused concern, particularly to those currently holidaying in Spain.
“The international quarantining regulations and the countries they cover are kept under continual review and are liable to change.
“There is no ideal time to make such a decision. A phased introduction would not have made sense. Public health considerations must take priority.
“The decision was taken after consideration of the latest data. COVID-19 prevalence in Spain has increased in recent weeks - a trend which accelerated rapidly in the latter half of the past week.
“I appreciate that people returning from Spain and its islands will now be faced with an unexpected period of quarantining.
“I will be requesting a meeting of the Executive to consider what support or advice measures may be needed for employees, employers and the self-employed, and what other actions may be needed.
“The advice from the Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientific Adviser is that a negative Covid-19 test immediately on return from Spain would not exclude infection – so a period of self-isolation would still be required.
“It has to be reiterated that Saturday night’s decision was not taken lightly. Experience has shown how Covid-19 can be spread by international travel. The quarantining arrangements have been introduced to help keep people safe.”
Notes to editors:
1. Up until last week, the official advice on the NI Direct website was to avoid non-essential foreign travel. It was acknowledged that this needed to be updated, given the decision to exclude a list of countries from quarantining restrictions. The updated advice, published on Thursday, states that the list is continually under review and “self-isolation requirements could be reintroduced at any time for public health reasons”.
It further states: “It is therefore possible that a country could lose its exemption while you're on holiday, meaning you would have to self-isolate for the full 14 days when you get back home.”
2. People arriving into NI from outside the UK or RoI are legally obligated to complete the passenger locator form and follow the advice on quarantine if arriving from a high risk country or region. Further information is available on NI Direct website.
3. This requirement applies irrespective of whether you arrive back into the UK or via the Republic of Ireland
4. Arrangements are in place to check compliance and failure to do so can result in you being liable to a fixed penalty fine.
5. For media enquiries please contact DoH Press Office by email: email@example.com.
6. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for media enquiries between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.
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