A majority of the Northern Ireland public is in favour of mandatory quarantine for travellers from Great Britain, a new survey has found.
he survey carried out by LucidTalk and IrelandThinks found almost two thirds (65%) would be in favour of a 10-day mandatory hotel quarantine for those setting foot on the island from Great Britain.
Of the remaining respondents, 30% were opposed and the other 5% were unsure.
The majority – nine in 10 – said travellers from the rest of the world should have to stay in a hotel for 10 days on arrival anywhere on the island. Less than one in ten (8%) were opposed and 2% said they weren’t sure. The highest number of those opposed to the idea are people who voted for the UUP in the last Assembly election (18%).
Those who voted for the DUP and the UUP were least likely to agree with the idea of a mandatory quarantine in a hotel for those arriving from GB, with more than half (59% for the DUP and 54% for the UUP) saying this should not be the case. More than half of Leave voters (57%) in the EU referendum also disagreed with mandatory quarantine.
Meanwhile, more than nine in 10 Sinn Fein and SDLP voters (94% and 91% respectively) and eight in 10 Alliance voters agreed with mandatory hotel quarantine for those arriving from GB to the island of Ireland. Half of those surveyed who voted for the Green Party in the last election also agreed (57%).
The results of the survey reflect similar numbers in Britain showing support for mandatory hotel quarantine for passengers arriving from outside Britain and Ireland. A YouGov survey, where almost nine in 10 respondents (87%) showed support for a ten-day mandatory quarantine while in the Republic of Ireland, an Ireland Thinks survey also showed majority support for the move (90%).
Dr Kevin Cunningham of IrelandThinks said it shows significant support, although a minority within the unionist community, in favour of the move.
Speaking to the BBC, he said there is often strong support for temporary measures.
“The pandemic itself seems to be cutting across party lines,” he said.
“It seems that the public are in favour of extreme or at least significant measures to tackle new variants.”
Polling was carried out in January by Belfast-based polling and market research company LucidTalk surveying 1,704 respondents weighted by gender, community background and other demographics with a margin of error of +/-2.4%, at 95% confidence.
It comes as Boris Johnson is set to announce that travellers coming into England will have to quarantine in hotels for 10 days at their own cost of £1,500, it’s understood.
The move is in response to concerns about new variants and the areas associated with them, including South America, Portugal and many countries in Southern Africa.
It’s also thought a ban on holiday travel will also be tightened, with travellers required to declare their reason for leaving the UK.
The Irish government is also set to tighten its Covid-19 travel rules, which will see Existing Passenger Locator Form rules amended to ensure NI-bound passengers complete the full form by providing a forwarding contact address.
Further plans announced by Taoiseach Micheal Martin include a “mandatory quarantine at a designated facility” for anyone arriving into Irish ports or airports without a proof of a negative test for Covid-19.
“They will also be subject to a fine of €2,500 and/or six months imprisonment,” Mr Martin said.
Executive guidance states anyone travelling into Northern Ireland who plans to stay for at least 24 hours should self-isolate for 10 days, with the exception of people who routinely cross the border for essential purposes.
Irish government advice states that any passengers who arrive from Great Britain, South Africa or any country in South America into the Republic are advised to self isolate for a period of 14 days following their arrival.