An Irish nurse working in England, who hoped to return home for Christmas, says she 'burst into tears' when she heard about a travel ban between Ireland and the UK.
A ban on flights and passenger ferries from Britain has been implemented in response to the rapid spread of a new strain of COVID-19 in parts of England.
The mutation - known as VUI-202012/01 - is said to be up to 70% more infectious than the original strain because it has a much bigger viral load.
Cases of the new strain have been spreading rapidly in the UK, and have led to a travel ban from several other countries - including Ireland.
The Government has said it will fly Irish residents stranded in Britain home, but this will not cover people who were planning short trips for Christmas.
Sandra, who lives in Liverpool, told The Hard Shoulder she has already received the vaccine.
"I was planning to come home on Christmas Eve - I finish nights on Christmas Eve morning and I was planning to fly into Knock that afternoon."
She says her sister sent her a notification about the ban, and that she "burst into tears".
"I was home for a week in August and before that it was March".
"I ended up getting COVID in November and I have the anti-bodies now - I actually got vaccinated this morning.
"I spoke to the doctors and they said it would be really safe to go home, that I wouldn't be a carrier and I wouldn't have it."
She says she feels "absolutely fine" after her first dose.
"It'll be nice not being afraid going into work and having a bit of peace of mind to go home."
'I just miss the dog so much'
She says she will miss two things more than anything about not being at home.
"Seeing my mom and hugging the dog - I know it sounds ridiculous, but I just miss the dog so much.
"I miss my family obviously loads and loads as well, but the dog's always so, so happy to see anyone who comes home - even if you go to town, neverminded being away for months".
Sandra says she had tried to come up with a solution, but could not get cover for work.
"One of my friends, he's from Liverpool, he offered to dive me to Manchester last night if I could [get my shifts covered], my mom was going to drive from Sligo down to Shannon to pick me up - she said 'I'll come to Belfast, I'll go anywhere you want'.
"But I couldn't get the shifts covered - it's Christmas week, who's going to do extra shifts."
However Sandra says she is lucky, as she has friends there.
"I'm actually quite lucky in that a lot of my friends over here are Irish, so we've all put in together and we're just going to have a couple of drinks, try to make a bit of a dinner - do as best we can".
"I think if it was put in place at the start of December, that we couldn't go home, then it wouldn't be as big a hit.
"But four days before Christmas to be told you can't leave".