500 calls made to helpline as Government to fly home some Irish stuck in UK

The Department of Foreign Affairs have received 500 calls to a helpline set up for Irish people who are stuck in the UK after a travel ba...

The Department of Foreign Affairs have received 500 calls to a helpline set up for Irish people who are stuck in the UK after a travel ban was imposed to reduce the risk of the spread of a new virulent strain of Covid-19.

ome of those stranded will be hoping to get home on special flights and ferry access organised by the Irish Government.

Ministers Simon Coveney and Eamon Ryan last night announced Covid consular flights and ferry access for those left at airports and ferry ports in the Great Britain.

It is expected a minimum of two flights this evening will take those stranded at UK airports home.

“The flights will be operated by Irish airlines. At least one flight will depart from London, the other departure airport will be decided by the demand from those who contact the Department of Foreign Affairs assistance line,” a department spokesman said.

“The flights will be open to Irish residents and transiting passengers only. There will be no access to people living in Great Britain who were planning short trips to Ireland for Christmas,” he added.

“This is because of the ongoing travel ban due to public health concerns,” he explained.

To gain access to the flights it is essential that anyone eligible to travel identifies themselves to the Department of Foreign Affairs, demonstrates their entitlement under the criteria, and registers to be included on the flight by calling the dedicated assistance line,” a department statement said.

The phone number for that assistance line is +353 1 6131700.

“This helpline answered over 500 calls yesterday. We would ask people to be patient as we deal with this high volume of queries.”

“Separately, our consular teams have identified a small number of Irish residents who are stranded in Great Britain after taking short trips in their vehicles. The Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Transport will make arrangements with ferry companies to give these Irish residents exceptional access to ferry services that are currently for freight only in order to return home,” the statement added.

People wishing to avail of those ferry services and are eligible cannot book them directly and must also contact the assistance line.

“It is essential that anyone who travels from Great Britain, or has travelled in recent days, self-isolates for 14 days in the interest of public health,” the statement said.

A spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs said it is expected the numbers who need to travel will be small and that the situation regarding further flights was being kept under review.

It is understood that around 250 passengers were flown into the country, with one flight coming in from Stansted Airport and the other from Heathrow Airport.

The Ryanair flight which landed at 5pm brought in around 80 passengers, while an Aer Lingus flight which arrived at 9pm brought in approximately 160 passengers.

A third flight bringing passengers who have been stranded in the UK is being considered, with Simon Coveney stating that there may be daily flights bringing in passengers from the UK.

The department of foreign affairs stated last night that arrangements are made to facilitate two categories of people: whose who were travelling internationally and were transitioning through Great Britain and those who are residents in Ireland and were on short trips to Great Britain and need to travel back in the next few days.

“We are exploring possible flight and ferry options with the Department of Transport,” read a statement from the Department.

The HSE has issued updated guidance for all passengers who travelled in from the UK, advising that they should self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival into Ireland.

The passengers should take a coronavirus test five days after arrival but even if this comes back as negative, they should still continue to self-isolate for 14 days.

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Newsrust: 500 calls made to helpline as Government to fly home some Irish stuck in UK
500 calls made to helpline as Government to fly home some Irish stuck in UK
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