Travel: Isolation Period

Oral Answers to Questions — The Executive Office – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 2:30 pm on 4th May 2021.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Paul Frew Paul Frew DUP 2:30 pm, 4th May 2021

T3. Mr Frew asked the First Minister and deputy First Minister, considering the impact on people who have been stranded from close family members for so long, how it can be justified that we are the only part of the United Kingdom with an isolation period in place after people travel around the country. (AQT 1253/17-22)

Photo of Michelle O'Neill Michelle O'Neill Sinn Féin

Again, that is the public health advice. The Executive have had this discussion on a number of occasions, and we continue to keep the matter under review. In fact, we had that discussion last week, particularly around the common travel area. People can now, for example, travel from Scotland to here but not vice versa. Some families have been distanced for over a year now, and we want to remedy that as soon as we can.

Health has been asked to keep us advised and to keep coming back to it, and we have decided that that is what we will do. I expect that we will have further discussion on the common travel area at this week's Executive meeting and probably next week as well.

Photo of Paul Frew Paul Frew DUP

I thank the deputy First Minister for her answer. Given that hospitality has paid a high price to protect people's health and will need interventions well past reopening, does the Minister support Hospitality Ulster's modest request to establish a ministerial cross-departmental working group to oversee its recovery? If so, what will that look like?

Photo of Michelle O'Neill Michelle O'Neill Sinn Féin

The Member was probably not in the Chamber when we spoke about that issue earlier. I made the point that there needs to be strong communication between the hospitality sector, the Executive task force and all our Departments that have a remit in some way or another for hospitality. We need to make it as viable as we can in order for it to open up. We want to be able to keep hospitality open, which is why we need to be careful and sustainable. Communication is the way in which to do that. Unfortunately, over the past week and a half, we have seen a disparity in approach across council areas. We are trying to get that ironed out; that is really important. The First Minister and I have raised the issue of the need to engage with the hospitality sector in a more meaningful way if we are to help people to be successful in opening up during these challenging times.