Government may advise people not to travel to the North, says Varadkar

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Digital Desk Staff

The Government is considering advising people not to travel across the Border in the coming weeks as Covid-19 cases continue to rise in the North.

As the Irish Times reports, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar was speaking at a parliamentary meeting this evening in which he expressed concern about the prevalence of Covid-19 in Northern Ireland.

Sources say he told TDs and Senators that travel across the Border may not be advised, where possible.

A number of senior Fine Gael TDs have also called on Varadkar to push for the reopening of pubs and implement a booking system for patrons when Level 5 Covid-19 restrictions ease from next week onwards.

Minister of State Patrick O’Donovan, John Paul Phelan and Joe Carey made the call at a parliamentary party meeting this evening.

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Tánaiste Leo Varadkar told the meeting that it is inevitable that cases will rise after restrictions are lifted in December, although he also told the meeting that 2021 was a year to look forward to because people would be able to enjoy personal freedoms they may have taken for granted beforehand.

Mr Varadkar said the Level 3 restrictions to be announced later in the week will resemble in place during the summer.

He said “the way to infantilise people is not to tell them the truth”, adding that the virus spreads when people meet.

Booking system

Meanwhile, Mr O’Donovan called for a booking system to be put in place for pubs and for groups to be given only one sitting a night. On this basis, he said, pubs should be allowed to reopen.

Mr Phelan argued that all hospitality facilities - whether they are bars, hotels or restaurants - should be allowed to reopen on the same basis with the same Covid-19 regulations in order to be fair to all businesses, it is understood.

Separately, Mr Varadkar is also understood to have told the meeting that the Mother and Baby Homes Commission Report will be published by Christmas.

It comes as earlier today Varadkar said it is likely that the Government will allow people to visit the homes of their friends and family over a two-week period approaching Christmas next month.

Leo Varadkar said the Government hoped to introduce a similar measure to Northern Ireland to allow household visits “for something closer to two weeks” in the Republic.

In the North, up to three households will be permitted to meet between December 23rd and December 27th as part of a UK-wide deal.

Speaking on Wednesday at an event in Grand Canal Dock in Dublin calling for people to support local businesses, Mr Varadkar said: “It is the Government’s objective to have family dinner, Christmas day, as normal as possible.

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