Foreign travel: Green list of countries may change every two weeks

Restrictions on travelling abroad will be eased from July 9th

In potentially his last press conference as Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar has thanked the people of Ireland for the sacrifices they made during the Covid-19 pandemic. Video: RTÉ

 

Foreign travel restrictions will be eased from July 9th with travellers permitted to move between countries with similar levels of coronavirus infection.

A green list will be compiled before that date detailing which countries people can travel between without having to undergo a 14-day quarantine - but it will not include Britain if current Covid-19 trends continue.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar also said checks and controls would be stepped up in airports and ports and there will be an expanded list of exceptional personnel who don’t have to abide by quarantine measures.

Mr Varadkar said the list of accepted countries could change every two weeks.

“If a country ends up having a second wave, they may be taken off the list.”

He also raised the prospect of a future inquiry into how Ireland handled the coronavirus pandemic.

The country will, from next Monday, move to phase three in the easing of the lockdown, Mr Varadkar confirmed.

This will see the vast majority of the economy and society reopen.

Under the plan, gatherings are to be limited to 50 people indoors and 200 people outdoors until July 20th. At this point the limit will rise to 100 people indoors and 500 people outdoors.

But churches and places of worship will be exempt from the 50-person indoor limit, Mr Varadkar said.

“The Cabinet agreed that we would make an exception for places of worship. However the specific protocol is going to be worked out with churches and religious bodies to allow more people to attend religious ceremonies. It will be very much policed by them.”

He said the move was to acknowledge the fact that there are some large churches that can accommodate more than 50 people with social distancing.

Catholic Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin earlier this week described the limit of 50 people attending churches as “strange” and “disappointing”.

Mr Varadkar also said he has been Taoiseach for three years and “it has been the greatest honour”.

He said the country owed a “profound debt” to chief medical officer Tony Holohan. He also thanked assistant Secretary General at the Department of Taoiseach Liz Canavan and the members of the National Public Health Emergency Team.

Mr Varadkar also said he believed it would be appropriate to hold a “memorial day” in honour of those who have lost their lives to Covid-19 and frontline workers but that the discussion was premature as the pandemic is ongoing.

The Government also agreed to make it mandatory to wear face masks on public transport.

Minister for Health Simon Harris said there will be sanction for a breach of the rules which will be enacted in the next seven to ten days.

Mr Harris also said that Ireland has seen the biggest drop in new cases across the European Union.

“From Monday we will lift travel restrictions right across this country and reunite with desperately missed friends and family.”

“It will be a week of immense emotion and joy.”

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