A Cork nurse now living in London is preparing to spend Christmas alone following the travel ban on flights and ferries from the UK.
Niamh O’Neill from Mallow is currently working as a nurse in London and typically flies home to Cork from London on Christmas Eve to spend the festive period with her family.
However, following the announcement of a ban on flights and ferries coming into Ireland from the UK, Ms O’Neill is now preparing to spend Christmas alone.
Speaking to BBC 5 Live, the nurse said that she had been hoping to fly home on 24 December.
“My plan had been to fly home on Christmas Eve, as I have done every year since I’ve been in London for the past three years,” she said.
“But, obviously, everything this week has kind of put that aside, unfortunately.”
🗣 "I’ll be alone on Christmas so I don’t really have a lot of options, only to work or stay on my own"— BBC Radio 5 Live (@bbc5live) December 21, 2020
Niamh, a nurse on a London Covid ward can’t get home to Ireland for Christmas. Now she might work extra shifts in the hospital instead.
🎧 @BBCSounds #5LiveBreakfast pic.twitter.com/JqcCWI583Y
The ban was implemented at midnight and it is to last for at least 48 hours, though it is likely to remain in place for longer.
The implementation of the ban came after the discovery of a new variant of Covid-19 in England, which is said to be up to 70 percent more transmissible.
Ms O’Neill described the news of the ban as “quite disheartening”.
“Obviously, a rise in infection we have to try and keep numbers down but at the same time it just seems so sudden and I think people had got their hopes up.
“And those who had been adhering to the rules and regulations, it’s quite disheartening, especially for those of us who haven’t seen their families in a long time as well.”
Instead of travelling home, Ms O'Neill said that she might pick up some extra shifts over Christmas and use the money to return to Cork “when it’s a safe time to do so”.
Despite the disappointing news, however, she is glad that her family and friends in Ireland are safe this Christmas.
“I know the safety of my family and friends are a priority back in Ireland and I wouldn’t take any risks in any way if I had a doubt about this new strain of the virus.
“I’m just happy this Christmas that my family are safe in Ireland and, look, if that’s the price I have to pay - that I don’t get to spend this Christmas with them - then it’s a price I’m willing to take,” she said.