Arlene Foster has said she won’t be giving any holiday advice until the Executive reviews coronavirus restrictions next week.
he First Minister was questioned about travel arrangements alongside Finance Minister Conor Murphy on Thursday.
Asked if she would be advising anyone to go on holiday, the First Minister said: “We will of course look at all these matters in a holistic way when we come to look at the restrictions next week.”
She called current inconsistencies between the different UK regions in terms of quarantine arrangements “unhelpful”.
“There is always the issue which we have to deal with, with people coming through Dublin airport and getting the information up to Northern Ireland,” she said.
“That will become an issue in Scotland and Wales as well if people fly into other jurisdictions into London and then move on into Scotland and Wales. What happens in relation to the quarantine?
“I do regret that it’s not a four or five nation approach in relation to international travel.
“We will be led by the advice that we’re given by our Chief Scientific advisers. We’ve had those discussions today and indeed last week and we will continue to work through those issues.”
Finance Minister Conor Murphy said earlier cooperation on travel between different regions could have greatly reduced the impact of the pandemic.
“In world terms we live on two relatively small islands and we’ve seen internationally how other islands have managed to protect themselves and keep a very substantially low rate of Covid-19 and that hasn’t been the case on either of these islands,” he said.
“So I think it is very helpful if we can have a joint up approach across both islands but I would like to see that type of approach.
“We’ve been arguing for that type of approach and I think had we been able to get that much earlier on in the pandemic we may have had a much better outcome in terms of protecting society both here and in Britain as well.”
He said one difficulty was that journeys between jurisdictions often involved multiple stops for individuals, increasing the risk of infection.
“So when people come into London or come into Belfast you’re never certain directly which country they’ve come from so there clearly are concerns around international travel.
“I want to see as much joined up approach as much as we can possibly manage.”
It comes as the UK government has been accused of causing confusion on the issue of booking holidays.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock insisted it is still “too early” to say if summer holidays should continue this year.
Speaking to the BBC, he said there was “a lot of uncertainty” but ministers were doing everything possible.
In contrast, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said “people shouldn’t be booking holidays right now – not domestically or internationally”.
Labour leader Keir Starmer has called for an end to “mixed messages” while businesses also criticised the government for causing more uncertainty for struggling travel companies.