Cabinet to decide on Friday if travel curbs can be lifted early

Some Ministers and FF called for nationwide travel to be brought forward to June 29th to save domestic tourism

Some Ministers and Fianna Fáil have been calling on the Government to bring the date for allowing nationwide travel forward by a nearly a month to June 29th. They have argued that otherwise the domestic tourism sector will be facing a wipeout in 2020.  File photograph: Getty

Some Ministers and Fianna Fáil have been calling on the Government to bring the date for allowing nationwide travel forward by a nearly a month to June 29th. They have argued that otherwise the domestic tourism sector will be facing a wipeout in 2020. File photograph: Getty

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The Government will decide at its Cabinet meeting on Friday whether to lift all travel restrictions within the State a month early amid growing calls from within the Government and from the Opposition to do so.

Travel limits are set to increase from 5km from home to 20km when phase two of the Government’s roadmap commences on June 8th. However, the next easing of the limits, which would allow people travel throughout Ireland, is not due to commence until phase four of the roadmap which begins on July 20th.

Some Ministers and Fianna Fáil have been calling on the Government to bring the date for allowing nationwide travel forward by a nearly a month to June 29th. They have argued that otherwise the domestic tourism sector will be facing a wipeout in 2020.

Government sources said on Sunday that “a lot of kites were being flown” by individuals about moving forward the timelines for easing restrictions, but the reality was that no decision had yet been made.

A Government spokesman referred to the Taoiseach’s comments last Friday when he said no decision would be made on changing the dates for each phase until the Cabinet met next Friday. 

However, his comments did allow for some flexibility in bringing forward some of the dates for actions in phases three and four.

Mr Varadkar said: “It is really going to be [next Friday] when we see those numbers before we can determine whether we can move to phase two and whether we can have any confidence about bringing forward some of the actions that are in phase three and phase four. 

“We will do that at the Cabinet meeting next Friday. Having looked at the numbers and having consulted with various different sectors and having considered new advice from the National Public Health Emergency Team we will [then make a decision].”

Fianna Fáil TD Robert Troy: “We have to look at an accelerated opening up of the economy.” Photograph: Alan Betson
Fianna Fáil TD Robert Troy: “We have to look at an accelerated opening up of the economy.” Photograph: Alan Betson

Over the course of the past week senior figures in Fianna Fáil have questioned the ban on nationwide travel remaining in place until the end of July. These include party leader Micheál Martin and justice spokesman Jim O’Callaghan.

On Sunday, Fianna Fáil TD Robert Troy told RTÉ’s The Week in Politics that while the scientific advice had to be respected, “other considerations have to be put into the mix”.

“We have to look at an accelerated opening up of the economy,” Mr Troy said.

Phase four

Similarly, former taoiseach Bertie Ahern said that actions scheduled for phase five , which included larger gathering such as weddings, full-contact sports, cinemas, theatres, spectator sport and hotel bars, could be brought forward to phase four on July 20th.

On the same programme, Wexford Independent TD Verona Murphy agreed that consideration could be given to early opening on a regional basis where it was shown that Covid-19 no longer posed an immediate threat. She said there had now been no new cases in Wexford for 10 days.

Separately, the Fianna Fáil TD Marc MacSharry said waivers should be given to high-performance athletes to attend training facilities more than 5km from their homes.

“We have hundreds of high-performance athletes in this country limited in their capacity to train because they do not live within 5km of their training facility. The reality is for many the resources in training facilities cannot be replicated at home.”

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