Social Democratic and Labour Party MLA Justin McNulty has called on joint First Ministers Arlene Foster and Michelle O’Neill to provide clarity on the arrangements for cross border travel which have caused concern in border communities.
The Newry and Armagh MLA said that people do not understand why foreign travel to Portugal and other Green List countries does not require self isolation upon return but those who travel from Crossmaglen to Carlingford would be expected to isolate for a period of 10 days when they come home.
Justin McNulty MLA said:
“Since the new rules regarding cross border travel were implemented this week, I have been approached by a significant number of people who are totally confused and concerned. It does not make sense to many that you can take a foreign holiday and come home without self-isolating but travelling across the border without a valid excuse will result in a 10-day isolation period.
“Are the First Ministers honestly saying that people should be allowed to take a sun holiday in the Algarve but if they visit a caravan in Carlingford, Omeath or Donegal they need to isolate? It is incredibly difficult to justify official advice like that. Moreover, what about families who cannot afford to holiday abroad but can afford to stay somewhere here on our own island?
“While the Executive will continue to review this advice, the SDLP has written to the joint First Ministers seeking a review of the arrangements for cross-border travel that keeps people safe and doesn’t create a rich / poor divide in our communities. As we begin to reopen and rebuild from the pandemic, it is important that restrictions are based on risk of transmission of the virus and that people can have confidence in the decisions being made. I hope that the Joint First Ministers from the DUP and Sinn Fein will review the arrangements relating to cross-border travel with this in mind.
“People need clarity and communication not confusion and chaos. It’s about time the heads of government in DUP and Sinn Fein learn from their past mistakes so that ordinary people who have fought so hard against Covid-19 have a clear understanding of the pathway to keeping them safe and to our local recovery.”