A 48-hour ban on flights from Britain has come into effect from midnight, while ferries will be limited to freight travel, as part of measures aimed at reducing the spread of a new strain of Covid-19 detected in the UK. 
33 flights from the UK were due to arrive into Dublin today, with a further 30 scheduled for tomorrow.
Airlines have assured customers whose flights have been cancelled that they are entitled to a refund or to a change of date.
Aer Lingus has confirmed it will not operate flights from Britain to Ireland in that period, and has also said it would operate flights from Ireland to Britain to facilitate repatriation and access to connecting flights.
Ryanair said passengers effected by any flights banned between 20 and 24 December would be contacted by email and offered alternatives, including refunds or changing the date of travel. 
The airline will operate all other flights – to or from the UK – which are permitted to fly, it said
Ferries will continue to travel across the Irish Sea to transport freight, but the only passengers allowed are essential supply chain workers.
A spokesperson for Stena Line said the Department of Transport confirmed to it that emergency or essential travel – including attending a funeral for example – is not permitted under the ban.
Meanwhile Stormont’s Health Minister has said he is to consult with Northern Ireland’s Attorney General about the legality of a ban on travel from Britain.
It all comes as the Chief Medical Officer, Dr Tony Holohan, has once more urged people to keep their social contacts low, or else not to visit vulnerable family members this week.
There were 764 new cases of Covid-19, and four deaths, reported by the Department of Health yesterday.
Read more: Latest coronavirus stories
Dr Holohan said that every indicator of disease severity is moving in the wrong direction.
In a statement, he said he had particularly strong concerns about younger people as the seven-day incidence rate of the virus in people aged between 19 and 44 has doubled since 11 December.
He said that if younger people mix with older people over the festive season it could lead to a spike in infections, hospitalisations and, ultimately, deaths.
Dr Holohan urged people who have been socialising in recent days and weeks to consider their Christmas plans carefully, and to keep their distance from older family members. 
The chair of the National Public Health Emergency Team’s modelling group, Professor Philip Nolan, echoed his concerns, saying case numbers are now rising rapidly with the five-day average now standing at 557 cases per day.
He also urged people to rethink their plans for Christmas so they can be together, safely, next year.
Additional reporting Sinéad Crowley

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