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Tánaiste Leo Varadkar PA Images

Leo Varadkar on the green list: 'It may not be simple but it is very straightforward'

The Tánaiste said that people can now travel to the green list countries for non-essential reasons.

TÁNAISE LEO VARADKAR has said that people are allowed to travel to green list countries for non-essential reasons.

The Fine Gael leader and Business Minister was speaking on RTÉ’s Today with Sarah McInerney after the government published the much-awaited list late on Tuesday night.

People travelling from the 15 countries and territories on the list do not need to restrict their movements when they come back to Ireland, as is the case with everywhere else abroad.

The government is still advising people against non-essential foreign travel and some insurers had expressed confusion over whether this advice still applied to green-list countries. 

Varadkar today said that it does not.

“The Department of Foreign Affairs website says that no non-essential travel is the general advice, but there are exemptions and the exemptions are the green list,” the Tánaiste said. 

The government is saying to you that the safest thing to do is to stay at home, to not travel and holiday at home in Ireland this year. But if you are travelling there are two sets of countries. For those on the green list, we’re saying to you take normal precautions. And that means you don’t need to restrict your movements for 14 days when you come back. And for those countries not on the green list, the no non-essential travel advice still applies.

Asked directly does this mean people can holiday in green list countries, Varadkar said:

“The virus does not know whether you’re on essential or non-essential business or what passport you have. What we’re saying to people is that the safest thing is not to travel for any reason, to stay at home in Ireland and holiday at home. But there is a difference between countries that have a very low level of the virus, like Norway, for example, or Italy or Greece, as opposed to countries that are hotspots.” 

Asked whether the advice remained confusing, Varadkar said the government did not want to treat people “like a child” and ignore the fact that some countries have higher instances of Covid-19 than others. 

“The Department of Foreign Affairs website has the advice for every country and it is there in black and white. It may not be simple but it is very straightforward,” Varadkar said. 

Speaking earlier this week ahead of the publication of the green list, Varadkar raised eyebrows when he suggested that unless there was different advice for different countries “we would be better off not having a green list at all.”

Asked what his intention was in making those comments, the Tánaiste said that “different messages” had been coming from “different ministers”. 

“What I felt was that in the days preceding that there were a number of different ministers going on the radio and TV, giving different messages, so I felt it was really important that at Cabinet meeting on Monday (sic) night we made a decision, and that we all communicated it,” Varadkar said. 

Asked who were the ministers he was talking about, Varadkar said it was “different people from different parties”.

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