Young people should not be stigmatised for travelling abroad – students’ union

EU digital Covid certificate scheme allows for free travel within the European Union from July 19th

Dr Tony Holohan said on Thursday he would advise people not to travel overseas unless they were fully vaccinated. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Dr Tony Holohan said on Thursday he would advise people not to travel overseas unless they were fully vaccinated. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

 

Young people should not be stigmatised for travelling abroad on sun holidays from next month, student representatives have said.

The EU digital Covid certificate scheme, coming into effect from July 19th, allows for free travel within the European Union.

Under the system an individual must either be vaccinated, have a negative PCR test prior to travel, or have recovered from Covid-19 in the previous nine months.

However, chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said on Thursday he would advise people not to travel overseas unless they were fully vaccinated.

Dr Holohan said the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) was fine with travel within Europe resuming from next month because of the extent of vaccination in the population, but travel should be focused on people who are immunised.

At present, people in their 40s are receiving Covid-19 vaccines, with registration to begin for people in their 30s from the end of the week, starting with those in their late 30s.

Ruairí Power, president of University College Dublin Students’ Union, said young people had been “cooped up for more than a year” due to the pandemic.

Those in their teens and 20s had “put their social lives on hold for the bones of a year and a half”, he said.

Mr Power said he was aware of many young people booking holidays abroad, given the Covid-19 situation had improved. “Lots of people are going to the UK for a few days,” he said.

There was no longer a “stigma” attached to overseas travel as there had been during the height of the pandemic, he said. “I wouldn’t begrudge anyone going abroad,” he said, adding people should not be stigmatised for doing so.

‘Large sacrifices’

The Government’s decision to adhere to the EU travel scheme had given people “a green light” to resume international travel, he said.

The vast majority of young people had made “quite large sacrifices to protect the vulnerable” during the pandemic, he noted.

Reuban Murray, president of Irish Second-Level Students’ Union, said for the most part, Leaving Cert students were still focusing on finishing their exams “rather than heading off to Ibiza”.

Given the uncertainty earlier this year, it was unlikely many groups of Leaving Cert students would have booked sun holidays several months in advance, as would have been the case in the years before the pandemic, he said.

Kevin Holland, a Leaving Cert student in Castlecomer Community School, Co Kilkenny, said he had no plans for a holiday abroad after finishing his exams.

“I haven’t heard of anyone going abroad… The furthest I’ve heard of is Belfast,” he said.

He and a group of friends are hoping to go on a trip down the west coast, and perhaps a holiday overseas after they are vaccinated later in the year.

Missing out on the traditional Leaving Cert summer holiday was disappointing, he said.

“Before Covid we were talking about it, and kinda planning it, saying oh where will we go,” he said. Even after the pandemic hit, he and his friends initially thought “this will be gone” by the time they were finishing school, he said.

Paul Hackett, president of the Irish Travel Agents Association, said the industry was not expecting huge demand for overseas holidays from Leaving Cert students this summer. “For the most part they haven’t booked because there were no options,” he told RTÉ Radio.