Taoiseach heads to Brussels for sign-off on return of travel between EU countries

It is possible that travel to the UK will be possible in June, and that holidays abroad will be possible in July.

THE TAOISEACH IS to travel to Brussels today for a two-day European Council summit, where EU leaders are expected to sign off on proposals to resume travel between EU member states in time for the summer.

As a result, two Cabinet meetings will take place later in the week, where the latest public health advice will be considered, before an announcement on reopening plans on Friday.

The Government has said it will lay out clear plans for the three “trickiest” sectors hit by Covid: aviation, indoor hospitality and events. A clarification on extending the controversial mandatory hotel quarantine system will also be given.

It is expected that the dates at which we can travel abroad will be laid out – with expectations that holidays abroad will be possible in July, with travel to the UK in June.

Further Education Minister Simon Harris said the Cabinet meeting on Friday will be “very significant”.

Speaking on RTÉ’s The Week In Politics yesterday, he said: “It’s really going to look at trying to provide clarity on what perhaps have been the three trickiest sectors, from a Covid point of view.

“So trying to provide clarity around indoor hospitality – when can we reasonably expect people to be back indoors in a pub or a restaurant?

“Trying to provide clarity in terms of what we call the events sector – when can we get people back in the stadia, when can we get people back at concerts?

“Can we pilot some events like they have over in Liverpool in the last month?

“And then thirdly, the aviation plan – when is it a realistic expectation to say to people… that they can be back in the air?”

The Irish Airline Pilots’ Association (IALPA) has said that hundreds of pilots are to take place in a mass outdoor meeting today in north Dublin to discuss the damage done to the aviation sector. After the meeting, the pilots are to go to Government Buildings to submit a plan to Cabinet to allow for the safe return of international travel this summer.

The announcement comes ahead of hotels and B&Bs reopening their doors on 2 June, with outdoor service for restaurants and pubs to resume on 7 June.

The EU Covid passport

The EU’s Digital Green Certificate, a Covid passport for the EU, is expected to allow the safe return of tourism to EU countries after over a year of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Under EU proposals, people will receive a digital pass that can be scanned at an airport, indicating they have either been fully vaccinated, produced a negative Covid test from the previous 72 hours, or have recovered from the virus.

Some in government circles have highlighted the case of Denmark, which has opted for antigen testing to be allowed prior to entry instead of the more accurate, but more expensive, PCR testing.

It is due to be introduced on 1 July, but member states will have the option of a six-week grace period before implementing the measures. It is not yet clear if Ireland will wait the six weeks, although soundings from Government suggest they will.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said he didn’t expect it to take place straight away from the 1 July, but that it would come into effect from some point in July.

- With reporting from Christina Finn and the Press Association.

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