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Coveney: Green list of countries published but advice remains ‘holiday at home’

The Government has published the list of 15 countries where the travel advice will be to take normal precautions.

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The Irish Government has released its list of destinations for safe travel, with Italy and Greece included but Great Britain a notable omission (Brian Lawless/PA)

The Irish Government has released its list of destinations for safe travel, with Italy and Greece included but Great Britain a notable omission (Brian Lawless/PA)

The Irish Government has released its list of destinations for safe travel, with Italy and Greece included but Great Britain a notable omission (Brian Lawless/PA)

People should not take holidays abroad this year despite the publication of a “green list” of destinations where it is safe to travel, Ireland’s Foreign Affairs Minister has said.

The Government has released its list of destinations for safe travel, with Italy and Greece included but Great Britain a notable omission.

People arriving from Malta, Finland, Norway, Italy, Hungary, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Cyprus, Slovakia, Greece, Greenland, Gibraltar, Monaco and San Marino will not be required to isolate for two weeks.

Others arriving from overseas – with limited exceptions such as essential supply chain workers – are required to fill in a passenger locator form and self-quarantine for 14 days.

People crossing the border from Northern Ireland are not subject to restrictions on their movement.

The list was published just before midnight on Tuesday after a late-night Cabinet meeting.

Simon Coveney said the Government advice on non-essential travel is clear.

“The message from the Government is still clear – that the safest thing to do is not take your holidays abroad. To look after your family, stay at home and spend your money at home and holiday at home,” he told RTE’s Morning Ireland.

Mr Coveney said 50,000 people per week are leaving the Republic of Ireland to go abroad.

He said if people are travelling through an airport on to another destination, it is the destination they are flying to or the destination they originated from that is on the “green list”.

Protocols in airports will become more robust to deal with the spread of Covid-19 and will be in place before August 10, he said.

The systems we are putting in are becoming more robust all the timeForeign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney

It includes the introduction of an electronic passenger locator form, enhanced follow-up procedures and a proposed testing regime for symptomatic passengers at airports and ports.

He said: “We are also adding significantly to the protocols in airports now in relation to what we are asking. We are going to move the passenger locator form online now to make it a lot more accurate.

“The systems we are putting in are becoming more robust all the time, dealing with capacity issues and so on. The Government had an obligation to ensure the travel advice is accurate and linked to risk levels and data as opposed to generalised messaging.”

Great Britain and the US were expected to be excluded, as only places with a coronavirus infection rate the same or lower than Ireland were allowed on the list.

Holiday destinations such as France, Spain and Portugal have also been omitted.

Mr Coveney said the Government will look at countries and regions in the next few weeks to ascertain if they are high risk and if they should remain on the “green list”.

“It will be targeted and could involve a requirement where you have to test before you arrive in Ireland or indeed looking at other international best practice as to how you would do that.”

The list was labelled as confusing by opposition parties prior to its release.

The Government has been accused of mixed messaging as it has published the list despite still recommending against non-essential travel to anywhere outside the island of Ireland.

Social Democrats co-leader Roisin Shortall said the “big weakness” in Ireland’s pandemic response is the failure to control the importation of the virus from abroad.

This poses a huge risk to our health, the lives of our vulnerable and to our economyRoisin Shortall

She said: “The promised announcement of the green list for countries considered as safe while at the same time advising against all non-essential travel is inherently contradictory.

“But of much more concern is the Government’s ambiguity about travel from countries that are not on the green list.

“Not only has the Government operated a self-isolate policy which has been largely unenforceable over recent months, but, inexplicably, in the last few weeks the travel advice has actually changed and weakened for those countries.

“Incoming travellers are now advised to merely restrict their movements.

“This poses a huge risk to our health, the lives of our vulnerable and to our economy.”

Thirty-six new confirmed cases of coronavirus were announced in Ireland on Tuesday, taking the overall tally to 25,802.

No further deaths were announced on Tuesday, with the death toll remaining at 1,753.

PA