Ireland ‘locked up like North Korea’ with travel plan, Ryanair says

The travel industry has condemned the Government’s new Living with Covid-19 plan published today as an update that has done little but put “the Irish travel industry on the long finger.”

Irish airline Ryanair condemned the plan's update as “more delay and indecision from Micheál Martin’s Government and NPHET.”

It was announced today that proposals for a common approach to travel within the EU will be "broadly" supported by the Government and replace Ireland’s current “green list” model, however, the proposals are yet to be finalised and implemented.

Irish aviation and jobs are being sacrificed to cover up NPHET’s failure to keep our Covid rate as low as Germany and Italy, both of whom have allowed intra EU air travel since July 1st while NPHET has kept Ireland locked up like North Korea.

“We need Ireland’s green list updated today and include all lower Covid case EU countries including Germany (22), Sweden (22) and Poland (18),” Ryanair said.

“Irish aviation and tourism cannot delay another week or month while Micheál Martin dithers and delays or while NPHET mismanages Ireland’s test and tracing system.

“Irish aviation and jobs are being sacrificed to cover up NPHET’s failure to keep our Covid rate as low as Germany and Italy, both of whom have allowed intra EU air travel since July 1st while NPHET has kept Ireland locked up like North Korea.”

The Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA) also expressed “disappointment” with the plan.

“We were disappointed to hear that there will be no further updates on the travel industry until the 13th of October, a whole month away from now,” ITAA CEO Pat Dawson said.

“We believe that the Government are simply postponing outcomes, and putting the Irish travel industry on the long finger, which will lead to another month filled with stress and uncertainty for our member travel agents. A lot can change in a month.”

Traffic light system

The proposed traffic light system for EU member states, with colour codes depending on an area's incidence rate of the virus, is likely to favour airport testing over quarantine periods.

It will supersede Ireland's "green list" which has not been updated to reflect rates of the virus in various countries since August 4th.

Under the system, EU member states or regions will be given a colour as follows:

  • Green for an area where the total number of newly notified Covid-19 cases is less than 25 per 100,000 during a 14-day period and the percentage of positive tests from all COVID-19 tests is less than 3 per cent.
  • Orange for an area where the total number of newly notified cases is less than 50 per 100,000 during a 14-day period but the percentage of positive tests is 3 per cent or more OR the total number of newly notified cases is between 25 and 150 but the percentage of positive tests is less than per cent.
  • Red for an area where the total number of newly notified cases is more than 50 per 100,000 during a 14-day period and the percentage of positive tests is 3 per cent or more OR the total number of newly notified cases is more than 150 per 100,000 people during a 14-day period.
  • Grey if there is insufficient information available to assess the criteria proposed by the Commission or the number of Covid-19 tests carried out per 100,000 people is less than 250.

According to the most recent data from the European Centre for Disease Prevent and Control, there are currently 10 countries with an incidence rate of 25 or below that would be classified as green: Germany, Sweden, Poland, Finland, Lithuania, Estonia, Iceland, Cyprus, Latvia and Liechtenstein.

Aside from countries on this list, the Government plan says it will continue to advise against non-essential travel from other countries.

The Commission has proposed that entry should not be refused to travellers coming from “high-risk” member states, with quarantine periods or Covid-19 testing after arrival implemented instead.

The new system could open up most regions of the continent to travel without quarantine, as testing would be favoured.

The Government plan also says that protection of Ireland’s Common Travel Area with the UK is an “important priority objective” with discussions ongoing.