Locals living abroad feel their families don’t want them home for Christmas

But Helena Patterson, who's based in London, says it's understandable given the high Covid numbers in the UK.

A local woman says it’s hard for the Irish abroad when even their families don’t want them to come home for Christmas.

Helena Patterson is from Crettyard, and has lived in Kilkenny city, but is now based in Ealing in London with her son.

NPHET says that families here may be able to reunite at Christmas if efforts to suppress the virus continue.

But they say that people returning home from abroad for Christmas has to be viewed as “non-essential travel”.

Helena says the hardest part is that it feels like no-one at home wants to see them returning because of the high rates on ovid-19 infections in the UK.

Level 5 restrictions are working; the R number has fallen to 0.6, and the national 14 day incidence rate is 135 per 100,000 – half what it was a week ago.

But some areas of the country are still struggling. Buncrana in Donegal has a 14 day incidence rate of 536 per 100 thousand, while in Listowel in Kerry its 404.

NPHET has warned large family gatherings and office parties will be out of the question this year.