The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Brandon Lewis and the Tánaiste, Simon Coveney today jointly chaired a second conference call with the First Minister Arlene Foster, deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill, Health Minister Robin Swann and Minister for Health Simon Harris to discuss the ongoing response to COVID-19 on the island of Ireland.
All participants welcomed the signing this week of the Memorandum of Understanding to formalise the close ongoing North/South co-operation on the public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
They reviewed the latest developments on a North/South and East-West basis and discussed a range of issues of common interest to combat COVID-19, including PPE provision, social distancing and testing. They asked that Health Ministers, in conjunction with CMOs, continue to maintain contact and to work together for the mutual benefit of everyone on the island of Ireland.
They once again jointly expressed their deep gratitude for the continuing courageous and dedicated efforts of health and social care workers, officials and all those working incredibly hard to respond to the challenges of the pandemic.
The participants agreed that continued close contact and cooperation on behalf of all the people of the island was essential and would be maintained, including through regular meetings in this format.
They also agreed to issue the following joint public appeal ahead of the Easter weekend.
“Easter is a special time and one where, in normal circumstances, people across the Island would be travelling. In ordinary times, for many people this would involve travelling across the border – for events or religious services, and to see family and friends.
“As we all know, these are not normal circumstances, and we are all part of an enormous collective effort against the spread of COVID 19. The public have played their part in following the public health advice, and for this we thank them sincerely. Our health workers, and all our essential workers, are on the front line of the effort. We owe it to them and, above all, to the most vulnerable in our communities, to continue to do our part.
“We therefore urge everyone to continue to act in accordance with the public health guidance North and South, and to avoid non-essential travel this Easter.
“Help save lives. Stay at home this Easter.”