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Random coronavirus testing at airports to be introduced


Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Random Covid-19 testing at airports will be introduced due to the “volatile” situation internationally, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly has said.

Speaking on This Week on RTÉ Radio One this afternoon, he said that an increased public health presence will be seen at Irish airports.

“We're introducing random testing at the airports and an increased public health presence and we're examining other options as well for further restrictions on non-essential travel because... the international situation is becoming more volatile,” he said.

When he was asked if pubs who do not serve food will reopen on August 10, he said that the government will make a decision based on Nphet advice.

Mr Donnelly said that he did not want to prejudge public health advice.

He acknowledged that it was a really difficult situation facing pub owners and that he had sympathy with them and added that Nphet will look "at all options" with "a view to keeping the reopening of schools on track".

Mr Donnelly stressed that this remains priority.

“The number one focus is getting the schools reopened,” he said.

“Decisions could be made if Nphet deem them necessary in order to keep the opening of schools on track.”

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He said international experience shows that when pubs reopen the number of cases go up.

Concerns about a second wave have come to the forefront due to rising numbers of daily coronavirus cases, with the average now being 44.

Sinn Féin's David Cullinane welcomed the news that random testing will be in place at airports and urged an "all-island alignment".

“I welcome this change in direction and it is important that we get clarity on exactly what is being proposed for both those departing and arriving at airports.

"We also urge maximum all-island alignment on the issue.

He said that Sinn Féin has been calling for checks and restrictions at airports, including mandatory temperature screening and wearing of facemasks in airports, random testing and all passengers downloading the Covid-19 tracing app.

“In addition, we called for all visitors arriving from high-risk ‘Red List’ areas should be required to pay for their Covid-19 testing and accommodation at designated isolation facilities, and only be permitted to enter the state after the isolation period has passed, or two negative Covid-19 tests have been recorded," he said.

"The progress made to date has come at a huge cost and we cannot let this be undone now. We will study the minister’s proposals when we see the detail," Deputy Cullinane added.

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