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“Christmas has now been effectively curtailed for many” says Kilkenny travel agent of latest restrictions

All flights from the UK to Ireland have been temporarily banned

Flights from Britain into Ireland have been banned until midnight tomorrow.

Only ferry crosslings for freight will be allowed after a new strain of Covid-19 in England has shown to be 70 times more transmissible.

The EU member states will meet today to discuss its response to the variant.

Minister Eamon Ryan says the Government can’t rule out the possibility of that new mutated strain being here.

There was crowding at some London airports as Irish citizens scrambled to return home before the deadline with some claiming social distancing wasn’t visible on their planes.

Hundreds of people planning to sail from Britain to Ireland on overnight ferries were told to turn back last night

The last passengers and private cars allowed cross arrived in Dublin before the midnight deadline.

Stena Line is offering refunds to over 1,400 passengers who were booked to sail into Dublin and Rosslare today and tomorrow.

Spokesperson for the liner is Simon Palmer, he says it can only carry haulage for now.

Meanwhile, there are renewed calls for mass testing at Irish ports.

Labour say there needs to be more medical and scientific advice on the strain of Covid-19 circulating in Britain.

TD Duncan Smith says the travel ban across the Irish Sea is the right decision – but believes testing is needed.

Reacting to the latest restrictions Kilkenny travel agent Tom Britton told KCLR News “With the implementation of the travel ban Christmas has now been effectively curtailed for many, the Christmas trip home has always been one of the most emotional trips of the year, for Irish people heading back here or indeed for UK people heading back to see their family & friends, all of these travel plans are now crushed with the uncertainty prevailing, the current ban highlights how quickly schedules can be affected and removes that slender confidence travel was gaining under the news of the vaccine, it also comes as a further blow for the tourism and hospitality industries”.

The head of Marble City Travel also says “The solace in this is the rules are being implemented to protect all, especially the vulnerable, the elderly and indeed our healthcare workers and service which is sadly ironic as it’s those people some of the festive travellers may wish to meet up with, perhaps even only for a cup of tea minding the various rules that are there, but at least doing so to see each other eyeball to eyeball rather than over a zoom call”.

Mr Britton adds “However, on the plus side, 2021 may become the year of the alternative Christmas festival, Heaven forbid we have it during the June solstice or whatever, and a key for anybody travelling over the next while is keep an eye on the likes of the Dublin Airport Authority website, Cork, Shannon, the port information and follow your trusted media source, most importantly”.