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Restriction on return from Italy or Spain

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Health Minister Simon Harris

Health Minister Simon Harris

Collins Dublin, Gareth Chaney

Health Minister Simon Harris

All Irish tourists returning from any part of Italy or Spain will be asked to "restrict their movements for two weeks", Health Minister Simon Harris has said.

The advice comes after the coronavirus situation in Spain began to significantly deteriorate and the Department of Foreign Affairs urged Irish people to avoid Spain and Italy unless absolutely necessary.

There are now more than 5,000 cases of the virus in Spain - a rise of more than 800 in 24 hours. Italy, which is under quarantine, has had 17,660 cases and at least 1,000 deaths.

Mr Harris said that regarding countries the Government is urging Irish people not to travel to, it should also be ensuring that they monitor the spread of the virus from Irish people returning.

"The national public health emergency team met last night. This is the team chaired by our chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan," he said.

Restrictions

"It was decided we should now give more advice to people coming back into our country from affected areas, currently Spain and Italy - countries that we were telling people not to make unnecessary travel to.

"As of today, people who come back to Ireland from those countries will be given information at the airport telling them to restrict their movements for the next two weeks - to not go to work, and to lessen their social context.

"We'll have to monitor this as we can see worrying trends in France and Germany."

Mr Harris was questioned on Morning Ireland on how thousands of Irish people were allowed to travel to Cheltenham Festival for the racing.

"I know it seems counter-intuitive in Ireland, as we're restricting mass gatherings, but the Public Health Emergency Team did consider this and as of now the UK is not deemed to be an affected area in the same way as Spain or Italy," he said.