IT IS time for someone to step in and implement a coherent, planned strategy for return to travel.
Lately, heads have been left spinning in Ireland from a merry-go-round of medical advice.
From as far back as the days of the Black Death, pulling up the drawbridge has been a typical reaction to the approach of plague.
But when do you let the drawbridge back down again?
That decision has always been more difficult.
There is no prohibition on travel but there is ample confusion.
If we can be clear on one thing, the Government policy is against non-essential travel.
This is not a ban on all foreign travel and it is important to note the difference.
The advice from the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet), therefore, is not in keeping with Government policy.
Individuals need explicit guidelines on where is safe to go to and where is not. Once they have the appropriate information, they will then be in a position to make a balanced decision.
It needs a strong Government message to make such decisions, and the communication needs to come not through medical briefings, but through a minister.
This is not business as usual, or even business as unusual, but it is business all the same.
Today sees the effective reopening of air travel to and from Ireland.
Ryanair are putting 40pc of their fleet back in the sky.
There are 80 departures scheduled from Dublin airport. This is a respectable amount, although well short of the 250-plus we could expect at this time in a normal year.
Shannon and Cork, confined to one and two routes respectively during the worst of the lockdown, are opening at about 25pc capacity. Knock, which had closed entirely, is just happy to be open.
Load factors are higher on some routes than others. Ryanair reports 80pc on some services. One existing Aer Lingus route has been running at a particularly high load factor already.
The airports are learning how to deal with social distancing, or the the closest to social distancing that their spatial requirements allow. Passengers are learning about contactless check-in, wearing masks and boarding in small groups.
But the biggest learning curve of all is the one we face as a nation and as an economy: How are we going to return to international travel without importing an unwanted and unseen stowaway?
Over the past few days it is not clear who exactly is deciding this strategy.
The European Commission has a policy in place. This guided the aviation policy.
Many people who read and heard Nphet’s call for people to cancel holidays already booked, think this has overtaken national policy.
But it has not.
We are used to having our travel policy set out by the Department of Foreign Affairs and the appropriate minsters and ambassadors in affected countries, but not on the basis of the doctor’s diagnoses at a press conference.
Like much of the infrastructure of travel, that system, with its careful checks and balances, has fallen apart.
Instead, as a caretaker Governmental created something of a vacuum in politics, we have what passes as international travel policy being promulgated by health officials at media events.
These health officials and doctors are doing their job. Nothing more, nothing less.
Their goal, which they will relentlessly pursue, is to arrive at zero cases and zero risk.
They have identified and rightly raised their concerns over infections brought to the country by returning travellers, mainly from non-tourism destinations.
But the reality of incoming infections is going to be with us in the long term and will have to be confronted sooner or later.
This is something the Government must engage with, not Nphet.
Nphet is also not charged with taking on board considerations like the fact that 75pc of tourism income is visitor spending, and that a lengthy quarantine sends a message to the world that Ireland is closed for business.
Future bookings for Ireland over the next nine months are being diverted to countries that are perceived as "open for business" — even though some of them have worse infection rates than Ireland.
Even the family holiday, a discretionary and recreational aspect of tourism, has been targeted.
This is a large investment by Irish families.
If they cancel these, they will not receive any compensation.
If the period of restored flights is to be replaced by a period of mass cancellations, where does that leave us?
The business of aviation and connectivity is complex.
There are inbound and outbound systems that are carefully balanced and driven by supply-and-demand requirements.
Right now, big decisions must be made by households of people who are overcome by confusion and fear.
When you start tinkering with one part of the engine, it can be shocking to see how many other parts fail.
International travel is vital to a country like Ireland, positioned as an open economy dependent on movement of people and investment without borders.
We are confronted with a long list of problems and we need to know where we are going.