The UK has closed all travel corridors in an effort to decrease the risk of importing the new variant of Covid-19.
The total closure of all travel corridors from Northern Ireland and the UK will come into effect at 4am on Monday, January 18, and comes just a day after the government banned arrivals from 16 Latin American countries and Portugal after the new strain was detected in Brazil.
Speaking at a briefing in Downing Street on Friday evening, Boris Johnson said it was “vital” to take extra measures now “when day by day we are making such strides in protecting the population” and indicated that the measures would remain in place until at least February 15.
“It’s precisely because we have the hope of that vaccine and the risk of new strains coming from overseas that we must take additional steps now to stop those strains from entering the country,” he added. The scrapping of the travel corridor means that all travellers arriving into Northern Ireland and Britain will have to isolate for ten days unless they get a negative result from a test taken at least five days after they enter.
Northern Ireland’s chief medical officer, Dr Michael McBride, said that “it is not possible to predict with any certainty the risk that a particular country or region will be the originator of a variant of concern. This move is designed to provide time within which to reassess the position on international travel and develop a system better able to respond to the risk of new variants, this work will be done in collaboration with the Scottish Government and Welsh Government.”
The Executive is also working with the UK Government to “facilitate urgent conversations with the Irish Government to improve data sharing from Dublin, to minimise the risk of a back door emerging through the land border”.