THE GOVERNMENT has arranged for at least two flights to bring home Irish citizens who are stranded in Great Britain.
On Sunday, the Irish Government followed multiple countries in issuing a ban on travel from Great Britain into Ireland following the announcement of a new, more transmissible strain of Covid-19 which has been identified in England.
The 48-hour ban is expected to be extended until at least 31 December following a Government meeting this morning, Tuesday 22 December.
The action, while accepted as necessary by most, has led to thousands of Irish people living in the UK being unable to return home for Christmas-- although some parties in Northern Ireland have declined to introduce the ban there, and some are instead travelling to Belfast or Derry before making their way to the Republic.
The Irish Government have now announced a minimum of two flights from the UK into Ireland which will repatriate Irish citizens who were visiting England, Wales or Scotland when the travel ban came into place.
This does not affect Irish people who live and work in the UK and are only returning for Christmas; rather the flight will repatriate Irish citizens who were in the UK for short visits before returning home.
They will also accommodate people who were flying into Ireland from further afield and were transiting through Britain when the travel ban came into place.
A statement from the Department of Foreign affairs has announced that the flights will depart tonight-- one from London and one from wherever there is the greatest demand-- and will be operated by Irish airlines.
Some Irish residents who had travelled to Britain in their vehicles will also be given special permission to return in ferries which are marked only for freight.
The Department of Foreign Affairs has urgently reminded everyone who will be returning on these repatriation flights or ferries that it is essential that they self-isolate for 14 days to prevent the spread of the disease in Ireland.
Anyone who needs to be repatriated on a flight or ferry should demonstrate their entitlement and register for travel by calling the dedicated assistance line on +353 1 613 1700.
It is not possible to book these flights or ferries on any other route, the Department has warned.