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Government agrees 15 countries for travel 'green list' following late-night Cabinet meeting

The publication of the green list late this evening comes despite public health advice that people should not travel abroad.

Image: Shutterstock/Robson90

Updated Jul 22nd 2020, 12:27 AM

THE GOVERNMENT HAS agreed a ‘green list’ of countries and territories from which people can travel without having to restrict their movements upon arriving in Ireland.

The Cabinet had been expected to sign off on the list at a meeting today, and the issue was discussed by ministers late into this evening with the list officially confirmed at midnight.

The list was expected to include a small number of countries and territories with low levels of Covid-19, which Irish people could travel to without having to restrict their movements for 14 days upon returning to the country.

However, while people will not have to restrict their movements upon return from these countries and territories, the government said this evening that the “safest thing to do is not to travel”.

The destinations are:

  • Cyprus
  • Malta
  • Finland
  • Norway
  • Italy
  • Hungary
  • Estonia
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Slovakia
  • Greece
  • Gibraltar
  • Greenland
  • Monaco
  • San Marino

Under the Department of Foreign Affairs’ travel advice, people travelling to these countries and territories are advised to take “normal precautions”

A government statement said this evening: “Anyone arriving into Ireland from these countries will not have to restrict their movements. Passengers from any other country outside of those with a Normal Precautions advisory are asked to restrict their movements for 14 days.

The list will be reviewed on a fortnightly basis, based on advice from officials including public health experts.
There is no change to the current policy in respect of travel from Northern Ireland.

Elsewhere in its statement, the government said it plans to strengthen existing measures for monitoring passengers arriving into Ireland, including the introduction of an Electronic Passenger Locator Form, enhanced follow-up procedures and a call centre operated by DAA.

Furthermore, it proposes a testing regime for symptomatic passengers at airports and ports.

The statement adds: “Processes to restrict flight or passenger travel in certain circumstances will also be explored.

In conjunction with these preventative measures, there will be a renewed communications campaign across all platforms to ensure maximum public awareness of the latest advice.
The Pandemic is not over and the public health advice remains the same. The safest thing to do is not to travel.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie this evening, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar reiterated the advice that the “safest thing is not to travel abroad”. 

“Holiday at home this summer,” he said. “If you are travelling, you do not have to restrict movements – stay at home – for 14 days on return if the country you are going to is on the ‘green list’ as the virus is at a similar or lower level than here. If it’s not. You do. Regardless of what the reason for the trip is.

The virus doesn’t know why you travelled. I know the travel restrictions are really hard on people. We can’t go to funerals of loved ones. We can’t visit friends relatives you live abroad. Important business travel is curtailed. And this is because of the 14 day rule… But there is hope, we now have a framework that will allow travel to be freed up but only where the pandemic is in retreat.

Mixed messages

The list was first due to be published twelve days ago, however there has been a debate over whether it should be released given that the advice from the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) remains that people should not undertake any non-essential international travel.

Yesterday, Varadkar said it was “wrong” to send out mixed messages about international travel and suggested that the list should not be published at all, if the advice against all non-essential foreign travel remains in place.

Speaking during Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil yesterday afternoon, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said that the government is taking a “cautious approach” to the situation.

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Reacting this evening, Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall also used the word “meaningless” to describe the list’s publication.

“What is much more important is that the government spell out how they will control the importation of the virus from those countries which are not on the green list and which are regarded as unsafe and high risk,” she said.

With reporting from Sean Murray

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Ceimin Burke

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