Contractors in the Republic are calling on the Minister for Agriculture to close down the cross-border movement of Northern Ireland-based farm contractors and their operators.
In a letter to Minister Michael Creed, the Association of Farm and Forestry Contractors of Ireland (FCI) said a large number of Northern-based contractors and workers are "continuing to enter the Republic unrestricted on a daily basis and working on Irish farms, putting the health of Irish farmers and their families at significant risk and undermining the huge national Covid-19 effort".
However, one contractor based in Fermanagh, who operates on both sides of the border, said the claim was "fairly foolish".
"Any of the agricultural work is non-contact this time of year - fertilising, reseeding and cutting silage," said Jamie Gormley, of Gormley Contracts in Belleek.
"There is still the older generation of farmers who want to jump in the cab, and you have to make clear to keep a distance."
Mr Gormley said there was "a lot of rivalry" among contractors on either side of the border. Those on the Northern side are around 10pc cheaper, possibly due to differences in insurance and machinery costs, he said.
A Government source said: "Maintaining our agri-food system has been central to the all of the Government effort in addressing the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic. Continuing the cross-border element of this sector is key. Baseless suggestions regarding any element of the sector are unhelpful at this time."
Dr Tony Holohan, the Republic's chief medical officer, said the rise in Covid-19 infections in border counties is not likely to have been caused by a "spillover" from Northern Ireland.
The Health Protection Surveillance Centre reported that the number of cases in the Republic's north east rose by 82pc in three weeks. Cavan has overtaken Dublin as the county with the most cases per head of population.
Minister for Business Heather Humphreys, a TD for Cavan-Monaghan (pictured), also dismissed claims the high rate in those counties is linked to cross-border travel.