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Editor's Viewpoint

Travel rules should apply to whole island as confusion reigns over Republic's 'Green list'

Editor's Viewpoint


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'Up to now there has been confusion concerning international travel, with different countries imposing different regulations, to the point where travellers need to work hard to find out exactly how the regulations will apply to them.'  (Brian Lawless/PA)

'Up to now there has been confusion concerning international travel, with different countries imposing different regulations, to the point where travellers need to work hard to find out exactly how the regulations will apply to them.'  (Brian Lawless/PA)

PA

'Up to now there has been confusion concerning international travel, with different countries imposing different regulations, to the point where travellers need to work hard to find out exactly how the regulations will apply to them.'  (Brian Lawless/PA)

Many commentators and experts dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic were forecasting for quite some that imposing the lockdown was comparatively straightforward compared to the difficulties resulting from the gradual easing of the restrictions, and so it has proved.

Up to now there has been confusion concerning international travel, with different countries imposing different regulations, to the point where travellers need to work hard to find out exactly how the regulations will apply to them.

Today the Irish Government is due to publish the details of its Green List which will name those countries whose travellers into Ireland will not need to restrict their movements for a 14-day period.

Also people from Ireland visiting countries on the Green list will not be required to quarantine themselves on their return.

So far, so good, but as ever the devil is in the detail. It is widely expected that two of Ireland's most important travel destinations - the USA and the UK - will not be on the list, and this will cause inconvenience. It is also expected that Spain will not be on the Irish Green List, but if so, this will highlight an importance difference between the two parts of the island.

There are no travel restrictions between Northern Ireland and Spain. It is expected that the Republic's Green List overall will differ from the quarantine rules for Northern Ireland, where people arriving from 59 countries an 14 British overseas territories will not be required to quarantine.

Anomalies like these make no sense in practical terms, and confusion and mixed messages are the last things we need in our continuing battle against the virus. It is no surprise therefore that two noted health experts Dr Gabriel Scally and Dr Tom Black, chairman of the BMA in Northern Ireland have called for a single Green List that will apply to both parts of the island of Ireland.

Indeed as long ago as March Dr Scally was stressing the need for "substantial cross border co-operation, sharing of resources and harmonisation" and his words still ring true.

Another point worth remembering is that travellers need to keep themselves abreast of events, as the regulations concerning the Green List and other factors to limiting the pandemic may be modified according to the prevailing infection rate. After all this time we are all still in it together.

Belfast Telegraph