Buffer zone between the North and the Republic called for by advocacy group

ireland
(Photo by Paul Faith / AFP) (Photo by PAUL FAITH/AFP via Getty Images)
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Digital Desk Staff

A buffer zone along the Border could be used to stop the spread of Covid-19 between Nothern Ireland and the Republic.

The Independent Scientific Advocacy Group, which has been advocating for a zero-Covid strategy has written to the Government with a number of solutions, after the Taoiseach said the country is not in a position to seal the Border.

A 'red zone' in Border areas with high levels of infection would be surrounded by a 'buffer zone' between 10 and 30 kilometres wide, with graduated travel restrictions.

Julien Mercile has authored the report sent to Government, he believes the plan could be enough to avoid sealing the border itself.

He says it is based on discussions with senior officials in Australia - where entire states have gone weeks without any local transmission of the virus in the community.

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He added “Of course the border in Ireland is a challenge there is no denying that, but they all said that you guys have to get your act together around this.”

Meanwhile, The Labour Leader said he wants a national aggressive suppression strategy brought in, including mandatory quarantine at airports for inward travel.

Deputy Alan Kelly says checks should be put in place within five kilometres of the border to stop the spread of Covid-19:

“We need to ensure that we have some permanent and some temporary checks.

"We should have checks five kilometres inside the border with Northern Ireland, as regards people who should not be travelling between jurisdictions because of the restrictions that are in place.”

'Untenable'

Meanwhile, in the North the DUP’s Jeffrey Donaldson has said that the suggestion that flights and ferries from the UK to Northern Ireland should be stopped in a bid to halt the spread of Covid-19 was “completely untenable”.

Air and sea links were necessary as they were very important for the economy, he told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland.

“We’ve already said that people should not make non-essential journeys across the Irish Sea.”

If flights and ferries were stopped then it would mean that the “entire public sector” would have to be shut down, he added.

The Northern Ireland Executive had already taken additional measures by extending the lockdown to March 5th.

Mr Donaldson said the North still did not have access to travel locator forms for people who arrived into Dublin and then went on to the North. The issue had been with the Irish Government for nine months, he said.

“We have been told by the civil service that it is a political decision to allow the sharing of this information.”

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