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Leah Farrell/

Taoiseach: Almost half of passengers who arrived at Dublin Airport yesterday had been on holiday

Micheál Martin said 397 people arriving at the airport yesterday were returning from holiday.

THE TAOISEACH HAS claimed that almost half of passengers arriving into Dublin Airport yesterday were coming back from holiday destinations.

Speaking at a meeting of the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party this evening, Micheál Martin said that around 800 people arrived into the airport yesterday, approximately 397 of whom were returning from holiday. 

The Taoiseach had defended the government’s plan to reduce cases of Covid-19 in the Dáil earlier, after new restrictions on travel and an extension on Level 5 restrictions.

New measures announced yesterday include a mandatory quarantine at a designated facility for people who arrive into Ireland without a negative PCR test taken in the past 72 hours.

Passengers arriving without a negative test could also face a fine of €2,500 or a six-month prison sentence.

Visa-free short-term travel from South Africa and South America has also been suspended until at least 5 March.

All passengers entering the country will be subject to mandatory quarantine, a change from the policy of voluntary self-isolation.

Martin told the Dáil that he will do “whatever it takes” to keep numbers down, adding that his government sought to ensure a “prolonged suppression” of Covid-19. 

“I want to make a very clear that there will be no half-measures from me as Taoiseach, or from Government, in ensuring a prolonged suppression of this virus,” he said.

“We will do whatever it takes to keep the numbers down once we get the numbers down, and we are achieving that.”

He also said that Ireland cannot allow daily cases to return to the levels of recent weeks.

Meanwhile, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar told a meeting of the Fine Gael parliamentary party this evening that international travel accounts for 1% or less of Covid-19 cases in the country, but that he would not rule out any new strategy to deal with the pandemic.

He also indicated to his party’s TDs that people should be able to book a vaccine appointment with their GP by July.  

Varadkar said he was “quietly confident” a phased reopening of schools would begin next month, and that the country may move to Level 4 restrictions on 5 March if conditions allow for it.

He also said the country may go from Level 5 to Level 4, or “Level 4 with modifications”, similar to the manner in how the country emerged from the first wave last year, according to sources in the meeting.

The Tánaiste told the meeting “it was important to emphasise that following this week’s measures there is no silver bullet to eliminate Covid from Ireland”.

He highlighted measures taken in 2020, including closing public houses and schools, which he said would not have been countenanced before, but noted that action had to be taken to stop the spread of the virus.

With reporting from Press Association and Christina Finn.

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