Government reiterates all non-essential travel should be avoided

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By Aoife Moore

The government has restated that all non-essential travel should be avoided as the threat of a second wave of Covid-19 appears.

A small rise in the number of young people who have contracted the virus since lockdown restrictions began to lift has sparked concern, as well as travel-based outbreaks.

Liz Canavan, the Assistant General Secretary from the Department of Taoiseach, says that despite airlines advertising commercial flights abroad, this should be avoided.

"We have seen from EU outbreaks and other countries in the last few weeks, how easy it is for this virus to begin to take hold again," she said.

"Countries that have had a low incidence are seeing a resurgence, countries that had eased restrictions now have to lock down cities or areas again, that is happening in Europe, and worldwide.

"In the last two weeks, a lot of cases here in Ireland were in young people.

"We have also seen an increased number of cases associated with travel, and we have seen how these have rapidly create a significant cluster of incidents."

A recent survey from CSO indicates that just around 60% of respondents rated their personal compliance with government advice, and guidelines as high. That compares to over 80% in April.

This week alone, Ireland has reported at least six cases of Covid-19 associated with international travel.

"The WHO has warned that the global pandemic is accelerating with over 1.1 million cases reported in a week, and over 10 million cases reported globally to date," Ms Canavan added.

Liz Canavan at a previous briefing. Picture: Collins
Liz Canavan at a previous briefing. Picture: Collins

"During this phase government advice is still to avoid non-essential travel.

"It's important to remember the early days of the pandemic, and that our early cases were associated with international travel.

"The risk now with new imported cases spreading in the community, before we can identify and break the chains of transmission.

"Some people have holidays books booked and are wondering what to do. We are acutely aware of this, and we would ask you to bear with us.

"The government has committed to preparing a roadmap for safe overseas travel and will finalise its considerations on this very shortly."

Chair of the Oireachtas Covid-19 committee Micheal McNamara has called on the government to implement a voucher scheme for consumers who had lost out on foreign holidays due to Covid-19, which he says would benefit the Irish hospitality industry and the economy.

Consumer rights bodies have likewise called on the government to step in and deal with the current confusion over whether airline customers can receive refunds or some other form of compensation.