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'Unreasonable' to ask fully vaccinated people to wait for Green Cert to become operational, says transport minister

Transport Minister Eamon Ryan says fully vaccinated people should be exempt from testing and quarantine.

Image: DPA/PA Images

“IT DOESN’T SEEM reasonable to expect fully vaccinated people to wait for the digital green certificate before allowing freedom from the current pre-arrival PCR and quarantine requirements”, Transport Minister Eamon Ryan has said.

In what is being viewed as a suggestion that fully vaccinated people could be given the go ahead to travel before the EU Green Cert becomes operational, Ryan said the certificate might only come into play in mid-August. 

“There is a need for pragmatism to allow for an early discontinuation of these public health requirements for fully vaccinated people to travel within the EU and between certain non-EU/EEA countries,” he told the Dáil today.

He said he would like to see fully vaccinated people, “who do not present an intolerable
public health risk for the spread of Covid-19, are not to be subject to pre-arrival testing or quarantine requirements”.

A senior source said government might opt to allow fully vaccinated people to travel.

They pointed to the US CDC advice, which they said was being looked at as an example, which sets out that fully vaccinated people can travel and refrain from testing before or after travel. They are also exempt from any quarantine measures.

The Digital Green Certificates is to allow the return of free movement of people around Europe this summer – by proving that a person has either been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, has a negative test result, or has recovered from Covid-19.

The testing mechanism used is a matter for each country to consider, said government sources.

Junior Transport Minister Hildegarde Naughten said over the past 15 months, both she and Ryan have engaged with aviation industry representatives and the national civil aviation forum, which developed a restart plan for the restart and recovery of the aviation sector in Ireland.

The report includes stepping down of mandatory quarantine, testing requirements and the advice against non-essential travel, as well as a clear commitment to the implementation of the EU digital green certificate. It also calls for the consideration of a pilot for antigen testing to replace PCR tests for international travel, Naughten noted. 

She said the report raises a number of issues for consideration in the context of the development of the Government’s roadmap for reopening international travel.

While some in government have raised concerns about the impediment the cost of PCR testing, and highlighting that Denmark has decided to accept antigen test results, one source stated that it is no big secret that Department of Health officials are not in favour of antigen in the international travel context. 

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They did not see antigen testing being accepted in the short-term, but it is believed that results of antigen test pilots in colleges and other large events will play into later decisions on the issue. 

Speaking about the supports, she said the government is committed to supporting the aviation sector and recognises the importance. 

Her comments come after large numbers of pilots lined up outside Leinster House yesterday calling for the urgent reopening of air travel, and the use of rapid antigen testing.

Speaking in Brussels, Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said it is “full steam ahead” for the roll out of the EU Green Cert.

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