The Government has not ruled out the possibility of families returning home from abroad in December to celebrate Christmas, Minister Simon Harris has said.
The Higher Education Minister said he remains hopeful that people will be able to travel home for Christmas amid concern that health officials may advise against homecomings this season.
It comes as chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said last night it was simply “too dangerous” for international travel at the moment due to the spread of Covid-19.
“Government hasn’t yet made a decision on this, as you know we’re trying to opt in to a European travel system at the moment, so we’ll have to again look at the situation a little bit closer to the time,” Mr Harris said.
I think we want to get to a situation where the answer to that can be yes.
“I’m getting queries from my own constituents at the moment who maybe have children in Canada or children somewhere else wondering can they come home for Christmas.
“I think we want to get to a situation where the answer to that can be yes. I’m conscious that Christmas is such an important time for people travelling.”
The Minister said that regardless of the restrictions in place to manage the virus, this Christmas would not be a typical one.
Level 5 restrictions are currently in place until the end of November, with it hoped that the country will see a reduction in cases and a move to loosened Level 3 restrictions in December.
“It’s unlikely any of us are going to be doing the 12 pubs of Christmas and I don’t say that in a flippant way,” Mr Harris said.
“I think we all know about you know, packed gatherings and the like are not likely to be on the scene, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still have a Christmas where we can get together with family, we can get together with friends.”
“Obviously we’ll have to provide clarity as a Government on exactly what that looks like based on public health advice,” he said.