Flying home for Christmas: CMO advises against

ireland
Dr Tony Holohan said Ireland's rates of Covid-19 were dropping, in contrast to other European countries.
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James Cox

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan has said people should not travel home for Christmas as it could cause avoidable outbreaks of Covid-19 here.

Dr Holohan reiterated the public health guidance that all but essential travel should be avoided.

He added that Ireland’s improving transmission rates in the community has shifted the concern to cases that could be imported due to international travel.

Dr Holohan said that when infection rates were higher in Ireland, someone was more likely to catch the virus in their community than through international travel, which may no longer be the case.

Ireland’s falling 14-day incidence rate contrasts what is being recorded across the rest of Europe, meaning people coming into Ireland from countries where the virus is less contained could pose a risk to the spread here.

Six-weeks away

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The CMO's comments follow remarks from Tánaiste Leo Varadkar earlier today when he advised people to hold off on booking flights home for Christmas.

Speaking in the Dáil, Mr Varadkar said it was "too soon" for people to start booking flights to Ireland.

"I think in terms of people booking flights for Christmas to come home, I'd advise them not to do that at the moment.

"I know that’s difficult, I know that’s tough, but Christmas is six weeks away and it is too soon now for people to be booking flights to come home."

Mr Varadkar added that there is a danger that international travel could lead to a surge in Covid-19 infections.

He also said that travel between the North and the Republic was a danger and something that is a concern to the Government at the moment.

Reaction

Ryanair has responded to the Tánaiste’s comments saying Mr Varadkar’s advice goes against the newly adopted EU traffic light system for international travel.

On Monday, the European initiative came into effect, with each region being given a colour to reflect their Covid-19 incidence and positivity rates.

Ireland
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Passengers from green regions do not need to isolate upon arrival, while passengers from orange regions can avoid the need to isolate by supplying a negative Covid test result from up to three days before arrival.

A spokesperson for the airline said: “The EU traffic light travel system, designed by the European Centre for Disease Control, gives people the certainty they need to book flights.

“It allows Irish citizens to travel home for Christmas with a negative test result, and similarly allows EU citizens to also fly home for the Christmas season.

"Aviation is a critical part of national infrastructure and the Tánaiste, who is responsible for job creation, should be supporting the traffic light system instead of undermining it”.

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