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'Green list' of holiday destinations will go down to the wire

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Tourists from the United Kingdom arrive at Athens International Airport after pandemic-related restrictions were lifted by Greece. AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris

Tourists from the United Kingdom arrive at Athens International Airport after pandemic-related restrictions were lifted by Greece. AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris

AP

Tourists from the United Kingdom arrive at Athens International Airport after pandemic-related restrictions were lifted by Greece. AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris

Greece and Cyprus may be among the European sun destinations in next week's 'green list' of countries where Irish holidaymakers can enjoy quarantine-free breaks.

This means that Irish tourists returning home will not have to restrict their movements for two weeks as a precaution in case they pick up Covid-19 abroad.

The list is expected to be quite limited and will exclude many holiday destination favourites.

However, the finalisation of the list will go down to the wire and not be signed off until Monday's Cabinet meeting. This is because a few days of virus flare-ups can dramatically change a country's rate of virus per 100,000.

Ireland's prevalence is now nearly four per 100,000, which has deteriorated in recent weeks. The aim is to find countries which are on a par with or better than us that Irish holidaymakers can travel to.

The UK, France and Italy are not expected to be on the list. Acting chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn said the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) - which is advising against non-essential foreign travel - has not seen it. He said he accepted that the Nphet recommendation to avoid going abroad, while at the same time publishing a green list, gave a mixed message.

"From a public health perspective, if a country has a disease rate more or less the same as here and people take all the precautions they need to take - getting there and while they are there, getting back and when they come back - then you can't say there is an additional risk," he said.

"But the vast majority of countries that people would want to go to for non-essential travel do not have similar epidemiological profiles to ourselves and we have been very clear that people should not go to those countries."

He said Nphet's position in relation to foreign travel had been very clear for many months, and that was to avoid any non-essential journeys abroad.

He said Nphet had no input into the list, which is being drawn up by the Department of Health with input from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

The list is based on incidence of the disease, trends and clusters, as well as the direction of disease in other European countries.

"Ultimately the list will be a matter for Government," he said.

There is an agreed European methodology behind air bridges which looks at the 14-day incidence and whether this is rising or falling, along with other key information about a country.

The information has not been provided to Government yet because the picture changes every day.

It will be given at the point closest to when they make the decision at Cabinet on Monday.

Dr Colm Henry of the HSE said that because of the "frailty" of our position in this country, people should not go on holidays.

"We should not take the gains we have made for granted. There have been enormous gains to get to where we are," he said.

There were health services that had been paused that needed to resume and school had to restart, he added.

Irish Independent


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