Are we allowed to travel home for Christmas or not?

Messages from Government and Nphet this week have left would-be travellers confused

The Government is easing travel restrictions with an eye on some revival of aviation next year. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

The Government is easing travel restrictions with an eye on some revival of aviation next year. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Your Web Browser may be out of date. If you are using Internet Explorer 9, 10 or 11 our Audio player will not work properly.
For a better experience use Google Chrome, Firefox or Microsoft Edge.

 

So, is Santa Claus coming to town or not? After the last 10 days or so, Irish people are wondering if they’ve been naughty or nice. Last week, chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan warned politicians that international travel ahead of Christmas was not safe.

But then Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan said Christmas was back on. He announced that from this week, those arriving in the Republic from “orange” or medium-risk EU regions, could waive advice to self-isolate for two weeks, if they tested negative for coronavirus up to three days before travelling.

He then confirmed that from November 29th, those coming from high-risk red zones, or the United States and Canada, could waive their 14-day self isolation if they took a test here within five days of arrival. Ryan stressed that the Government favoured costlier, slower, PCR tests over faster, cheaper, antigen screening.

Cautious

These measures are really a cautious version of the EU traffic light system for air travel, and represent relatively little progress towards reopening the Republic. Nevertheless, they appeared to signal an easing of restrictions on time for Christmas, when many families expect loved ones to return for a few days at least.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar stepped in on Thursday, saying people should not book flights home for Christmas just yet. Holohan returned to the fray, advising Irish people not to travel home for the festive season. This was more explicit than his earlier statement, which he had hedged by pointing out that things could be different in late December.

Then on Friday, Taoiseach Micheál Martin signalled that the Government hoped to step overall restrictions down to Level 3, from their current Level 5, next month, with some further easing for Christmas. Those remarks were more general, and less related to travel.

The reality is that the Government is easing travel restrictions with an eye on some revival of aviation next year, while Holohan is more concerned with the immediate risk he believes large numbers of incoming passengers will pose. Still, you could forgive the rest of us for wondering whether Santa Claus, the Grinch, or both, with show up on Christmas Eve.

News Digests

Stay on top of the latest newsSIGN UP HERE
The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.