Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney. RollingNews.ie photo
By Irish Echo Staff
The stressed out Irish tourism industry is not going to be bailed out this summer by hordes of visitors from Greenland.
But neither will Ireland be emptied of stay at home vacationers as a result of hordes of Irish summer sun seekers heading for Estonia.
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The Irish government has published its keenly anticipated “Green List” of countries to which Irish citizens can travel to without having to go into 14 day quarantine when they return, and from which people can travel to Ireland without having to do the same upon arrival.
As expected, the United Staes is not on the list. Neither is the United Kingdom, Germany or France.
Italy is the biggest country on the list in terms of population.
Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney stated that while a ‘green list’ of countries had been published, the safest thing for people to do was to holiday at home in Ireland this year.
The list is made up of Malta, Finland, Norway, Italy, Hungary, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Cyprus, Slovakia, Greece, Greenland, Gibraltar, Monaco and San Marino.
All of these have a similar or lower level of Covid-19 when compared with Ireland.
According to an RTE report, Aer Lingus has said the green list means Ireland is effectively closed for business.
The airline said the list will have profoundly negative impacts on the Irish economy and on the aviation and tourism sectors and jobs within them.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland show, Minister Coveney said Ireland remains slow to open up international travel but there have been no cases of Covid-19 brought into Ireland from the listed countries.
He said that 50,000 people a week are leaving Ireland and there is an obligation to give them travel advice based on risk.
“We would rather they were not [leaving], but they are” and it is important they have information about risk levels and about restricting movements when they return from other locations, Coveney said.
He said the 15 ‘green list’ countries have an infection rate of 5 per 100,000 population, or lower, over the last 14 days. Ireland is currently at 4.9.
Mr. Coveney, according to the RTE report, said he accepts there had been confusion over the last few days, but what Ireland is doing on international travel is being really cautious as the most important priority is protecting public health.
The minister also said that he does not think it is “doable” to quarantine people who arrive in Ireland for 14 days in a designated facility.
He said this has led to clusters in some quarantine locations in Australia, adding: “we have looked seriously at that model and it could cause more problems than it solves.”
Mr. Coveney said the government is going to look at countries with high risk levels over the coming weeks in terms of whether further restrictions on international travel should be introduced.
He said this could involve a requirement to be tested before a person comes to Ireland.
He said random testing at airports will be put in place for people coming from non-green list countries and there will be testing facilities at airports for people who may have symptoms of Covid-19.
Minister Coveney said Ireland cannot close itself off from the rest of the world.
Aer Lingus, however, said in a statement that the list is more restrictive than in any country in Europe.
“Ireland now stands alone in Europe in applying this policy the rest of Europe has opened for travel,” the airline said.
“The criteria used for the ‘Green List’ is even more restrictive than that used by the European Union for passengers from third countries entering the EU.”
The carrier added that Ireland had failed to act upon the European Commission’s request to member states to lift all border restrictions within the EU to allow free movement of people by June 15.
While the green list names destinations that Irish people are able to travel to with relatively little restriction, the general advice from the Irish government is for people to take their summer holidays in Ireland itself.
Not surprisingly, many find themselves in a financial bind as holidays have been booked a long time in advance and in many instances before the Covid-19 pandemic.