The Minister for Transport and Green Party leader Eamon Ryan has said that the Irish Government will work closely with the UK government to have a seamless approach and to ensure there is not a “backdoor” into the country.
“If we see a gap in the defences, we will close it, we will work in cooperation” he told RTÉ radio’s Today with Claire Byrne show.
There was not a silver bullet solution for Covid-19, what would be provided was layers of security, he said.
Measures such as the requirement of a negative PCR test result and the threat of mandatory quarantine would reduce the numbers travelling and reduce the risk of transmission of the virus, he said.
The gardaí will have the powers to turn away people arriving without a negative PCR test result and the Government is also looking at stopping the issuing of short term visas from some countries.
Mandatory quarantine would provide some measure of protection and frontline workers deserve every protection, he said. “We are doing everything we can to ensure that protection. The numbers at the moment are scary.”
Mr Ryan said antigen testing would commence on Thursday for Irish truckers going to France, this had been agreed with the French government. “This is another layer of security. We need a multi-layered approach to travel.”
When asked about the chance of closing the border with Northern Ireland he said he did not think it was politically possible, but that if Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald thought she could influence it then “that would be great.”
It would be very difficult to hermetically seal the border, he said. But if people from the North were travelling within 5km of the border on the southern side without explanation, then they would be subject to prosecution and fines.
There would be no shortage of resources, it was not a case of a battle between the economy and the virus, he said. “We need to get hospitals away from the edge.”
On the issue of shortages of the AstraZeneca vaccine, Mr Ryan said that there were a number of “different moving parts” in the vaccination programme which was a plan that would keep changing, adding there would be adjustments.
“We are not in control of international manufacturing supplies.”
The Irish approach would have to be coordinated with an international approach so that every country could get access, he said.