Cross-border Belfast to Dublin bus service axed amid Covid-19 crisis
CROSS-border public transport links between Belfast and Dublin have been dealt a major blow after the Republic's state-owned bus company pulled out due to Covid-19 pressures.
Bus Éireann is to suspend indefinitely its Dublin-Belfast service amid a severe drop in its finances as a result of the pandemic.
Its buses will be withdrawn from the X1 cross-border route in the coming months, the company announced yesterday in a series of service cutbacks.
Stormont's infrastructure minister Nichola Mallon is "concerned" by the development, a spokeswoman said.
However Translink, the north's public transport firm, said it remains committed to operating the route.
It vowed to work with transport officials on both sides of the border to ensure a continuity of services and "minimise the overall impact on our passengers".
Meanwhile, a primary school in Co Down became the first in the north to close completely due to Covid-19.
St Comgall's in Bangor took the decision to close for 14 days after cases of the virus were detected.
Previously, positive cases in schools have seen specific groups self-isolate as a precaution.
Concerns over the spread of the virus on university campuses continued as it emerged around 100 students in Queen's University halls of residence have been told to self-isolate following 30 people testing positive.
A young Belfast woman who moved to Scotland to begin her university life is among an entire apartment of students who tested positive for the virus.
Ellen McDonald (19) said help from her university has improved, with students being offered pizza and food packages.
"My first week here was really interesting, meeting new people during freshers. But the past few days haven't been great, they're slow to get in and over the past few days the home sickness has really crept in," she said.
In Northern Ireland, a further 220 new cases of Covid-19 were confirmed by Stormont's Department of Health.
It brings the total number of infections to 10,949 – including 1,513 notified within the last seven days.
There were no further deaths recorded, leaving the toll at 578.
In the Republic, an additional 390 cases of Covid-19 were confirmed. The death toll remained unchanged at 1,802.