EU fishermen in Irish ports exempt from Covid-19 restrictions, Department of Health says

EU fishermen who land in Irish ports are exempt from restrictions that normally apply to anyone coming into the country, the Department of Health said tonight.

EU fishermen in Irish ports exempt from Covid-19 restrictions, Department of Health says

EU fishermen who land in Irish ports are exempt from restrictions that normally apply to anyone coming into the country, the Department of Health said tonight.

Health chiefs were responding to protests at two ports today against Spanish fishermen who tried to land their catches in Dingle and Castletownbere.

Around 30 vehicles were driven onto the pier at Dingle, preventing two French-registered ships from landing.

Another group of protesters were due to do the same at Castletownbere when it emerged that is where the two boats decided to head to instead.

Robert Brosnan, one of the protestors, said: “This is not a fishing issue. This is a public health issue.

"We are worried fishermen coming from other countries unchecked could be bringing Covid-19 with them. And this is scaring people, so a few of us have decided to act because the State doesn’t appear to be doing anything.”

A Department of Health spokesperson said: “There are no entry restrictions to Ireland at present. To date, entry screening at ports and airports is not recommended by WHO or the ECDC.

"It should also be noted that temperature screening alone, at exit or entry, is not an effective way to stop international spread.

"Anyone coming into Ireland, apart from Northern Ireland, will be required to either restrict their movements on arrival for 14 days.

"This includes Irish residents. Essential supply chain services such as hauliers, pilots and maritime staff are exempt.”

Mr Brosnan said: “We have fierce concern here in the community in West Kerry at the moment about Spanish and French boats landing their fish into the port here.

The crews have been coming ashore and going into the shops locally. There is fierce uneasiness within the community because we are doing our best as citizens to contain the virus and maintain social distancing between people and protect our most vulnerable people.

"There are no restrictions on the people coming ashore here, and we are not happy about that.

“This is a public health issue, this is nothing to do with fishing. This is about people coming ashore into a community, most of whom have no idea this is going on.”

He added: “I think at the very least they should be quarantined.

“They could just as easily pick it up in Dingle, get back on their boats and bring it back to France or Spain or wherever they are going.

"We need to try and contain things and this is the effort we are doing to do that at the moment.”

Patrick Murphy, Irish South and West fish producers Organisation, said he raised this issue with the authorities last week.

But he said that as a result of little or no action being taken about local concerns “fear has overtaken compassion and conflict is the result”.

And he said: “The irony is we are (warned to) isolate and keep our distance and act in our neighbours’’ interest to stop the spread of this killer virus to our most vulnerable in our society.

“These coastal communities were not listened to and sadly have decided to act themselves in their belief they are doing right by their old and sick.”

He added: “However we must remember Spanish people depend on this fish and have the right to catch the shared resource of fish stocks that inhabit our waters.

"I feel all conflict can be resolved through communication and a lot of understanding but we need this to be put in place immediately.

"We are all rightly concerned not only for our future but our present and this is a time for leadership and mediation to address the concerns of these frightened communities.”

    Useful information
  • The HSE have developed an information pack on how to protect yourself and others from coronavirus. Read it here
  • Anyone with symptoms of coronavirus who has been in close contact with a confirmed case in the last 14 days should isolate themselves from other people - this means going into a different, well-ventilated room alone, with a phone; phone their GP, or emergency department - if this is not possible, phone 112 or 999 and in a medical emergency (if you have severe symptoms) phone 112 or 999

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