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Ireland ‘not in a position yet’ to restore Common Travel Area amid ‘real concerns’ of so-called Indian variant – Varadkar

Tánaiste gives detail on phased return to international travel


People leave a Dublin hotel after completing their mandatory quarantine stay this week. Photo: Colin Keegan/ Collins

People leave a Dublin hotel after completing their mandatory quarantine stay this week. Photo: Colin Keegan/ Collins

People leave a Dublin hotel after completing their mandatory quarantine stay this week. Photo: Colin Keegan/ Collins

Ireland is "not in a position" to restore the Common Travel Area with the UK yet amid “real concerns” about the presence of the so-called Indian variant in Britain. 

At the moment, anyone travelling from the UK to Ireland must have a negative PCR test and must quarantine until they have another negative PCR test five days after their arrival.

However, travellers from Ireland to the UK are not subject to the same restrictions.

Last week, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said the CTA would be reopened “very soon”, but this morning he expressed concern about the prevalence of the variant in the UK.

Also speaking this morning, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar also said all EU countries are set to be removed from the Government's mandatory hotel quarantine list.

But, Leo Varadkar added that mandatory hotel quarantining will continue for other red list countries.

"We're buying into the European Digital Green Cert system so there will be different set of rules for EU countries versus non EU countries, and there will still be countries that are on a danger list or a red list where the restrictions will be very tough,” Mr Varadkar said on RTÉ Radio One’s Morning Ireland.

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"All EU countries are coming off the mandatory hotel quarantining list.

"It's great that we're going to see a return to international travel, but we're going to try and do this as safely as possible and minimise risk.

"That, unfortunately, will create a degree of uncertainty for some people because you might book a trip somewhere for a country that's not on a red list but it may be on the red List by the time you go there and there will be requirements around vaccines and testing.

"So, unfortunately, it is not going to be a return to international travel as we used to know it, at least not yet, but it is going to be a clear road map, and a phased return to international travel."

Speaking on the same show, Transport Minister Eamon Ryan could not give a definitive date of when the EU Digital Green Cert will be implemented in Ireland but assured it should coincide with the easing of travel restrictions.

As part of today’s announcement on the easing of Covid-19 restrictions in Ireland, the Government is set to announce that foreign holidays will be allowed from July 19th.

The EU Digital Green Cert would allow anyone who has been vaccinated, has a PCR test or recently had Covid to travel freely within the union.

"It’s in that sort of time frame we can expect,” Minister Ryan said when asked if implementation of the cert will begin on July 19.

"Europe will introduce the scheme from the 1st of July, recognising they said that there should be six weeks of an introductory period.”

The EU was originally asking member states to have the infrastructure in place for the certificate from the beginning of June, but has now given countries six weeks from this date.

The Transport Minister said Ireland “will need those weeks” to get airports ready for an increase in passengers.

“We will need those weeks because one of the things we’re going to have to manage, and it will be difficult, is how we manage our airports,” he said.

“Because as the numbers of people travelling increases we will still be requiring people to show that cert and even though that’ll be electronic and brief this can cause delay.

“And any delay in airports can lead to backlogs and we are going to have to manage that.

“We saw in the UK in Heathrow when they started reintroducing flights they immediately had large queues.”

Minister Ryan added that “a lot of work” has to be done to ensure airports are ready for when non-essential travel will resume.

“We still will implement public health measures to make sure we’re checking people when we’re coming in,” he said.

Visit our Covid-19 vaccine dashboard for updates on the roll out of the vaccination program and the rate of Coronavirus cases Ireland

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