Government concern as 5,200 Irish people return from holidays abroad in one week

‘While we all would love and need a holiday, now is not the time to travel,’ says official

Senior Government official Liz Canavan said this figure represented was two-thirds of the Irish people who returned to the country that week and described this as a “very concerning statistic”. Photograph: Gareth Chaney /Collins

Senior Government official Liz Canavan said this figure represented was two-thirds of the Irish people who returned to the country that week and described this as a “very concerning statistic”. Photograph: Gareth Chaney /Collins

 

More than 5,200 Irish residents that arrived into Dublin Airport over the course of a week starting at the end of January said they had been on holidays despite the restrictions on non-essential international travel.

Senior Government official Liz Canavan said this represented two-thirds of the Irish people who returned to the country that week and described this as a “very concerning statistic”.

Ms Canavan, the Assistant Secretary General of the Department of the Taoiseach, has today warned that non-essential overseas travel is a breach of Level 5 Covid-19 restrictions and added it was: “important that everyone understands and respects that.”

It comes as the Government seeks to tighten restrictions on international travel. In all 13,606 passengers arriver into Dublin from January 30th to February 5th.

A total of 8,218 were Irish residents and of those 5,241 stated that they were returning from a holiday or visit abroad.

This represents 63.8 per cent or almost two-thirds of all Irish residents who arrived into Dublin Airport that week.

Ms Canavan said overall passenger numbers are below 3 per cent of normal levels for this time of year but expressed concern at the proportion of Irish people who had been on holidays in breach of restrictions.

She added: “While we all would love and need a holiday, now is not the time to travel.

“Unless you are travelling for a specific essential purpose, please stay at home and follow the guidance.”

She listed what she described as “a very significant range of measures” have been taken on travel.

These include an increase in the fine for non-essential overseas travel from €100 to €500 and she said Gardaí are detecting and fining people

Visa-free travel from Brazil and South Africa - where there are new variants of the virus - have been suspended and issuing of visas, other than in exceptional circumstances, has also been suspended.

She said regulations requiring a pre-departure negative PCR test for all passengers arriving into Ireland from overseas have been extended and anyone who arrives without a test is obliged to take one on arrival.

The same rules and obligations when it comes to testing and quarantine also now apply to those who arrive into Ireland from overseas via Northern Ireland, Ms Canavan added.

Ms Canavan reminded people who have travelled that they must quarantine at home with very limited exceptions and there are penalties for non-compliance.

She said people can end their period of quarantine if they take a PCR test after five days.

She said these precautions “are keeping you, your family, your colleagues and your community safe” and asked people who are travelling to abide by them.