Northern Ireland news

DUP rejects Michelle O'Neill call for quarantine for travellers from Britain

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson accused Michelle O'Neill of 'playing politics'. Picture by Hugh Russell

THE DUP has rejected Michelle O'Neill's call for quarantine restrictions on people travelling to the north from Britain.

The deputy first minister said on Monday that she would ask the executive tomorrow to impose the 14-day self-isolation period.

Her remarks coincided with an expectation that the Dublin government will not include Britain on a 'green list' of countries whose visitors will be exempt from quarantine controls.

Foreign affairs minister Simon Coveney, who has previously signalled that Britain was "unlikely" to make the list, yesterday met the five main Stormont parties to discuss the response to Covid-19.

Ms O'Neill said the north "can't become a backdoor for travellers entering into this island".

"When we look at where is the greatest risk posed, the greatest risk that we have been told is from travellers coming from Britain," she said.

"So the executive has to have a discussion about that issue and make a call on that but certainly, it is my view that given that's where the greatest risk comes, then we need to act on that."

The Department of Health said people travelling from England, where cases of Covid-19 are the highest in Britain, had roughly a 1 in 2,300 chance of carrying the virus.

It said the possibility of a traveller from England bringing the virus into the north was "very low in terms of absolute risk".

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson rejected Ms O'Neill's assertion and accused her of "playing politics".

"It is my understanding ministers have not been given medical or scientific advice to the effect that quarantine should be introduced for travellers from GB - no such recommendation has been made," he told the BBC.

The DUP MP claimed there was a "far greater risk" to people living along the border from those moving back and forward every day from the Republic.

"We clearly have a lot of visitors coming north of the border, there is a much higher risk there of the spread of infection, which is why I think Michelle O'Neill stood on a political landmine when she made this statement yesterday, I really don't think she thought this through at all."

Mr Donaldson said the DUP would not support any proposal to make travellers from Britain quarantine

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