Home for Christmas: 'No ban on international travel' says Tánaiste

ireland
People are being asked to avoid non-essential travel over the Christmas period.
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Digital Desk Staff

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said although there is no ban on international travel or coming home for Christmas, people are being urged to avoid non-essential travel in the next month.

Speaking at a briefing on the eased Covid-19 restrictions announced by Taoiseach Micheál Martin this evening, Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan said the decision to travel home was an individual judgement call, adding that if people decided to travel, they should use common sense.

Mr Varadkar also highlighted the need for passengers arriving in Ireland to restrict their movements if they are coming from region classified as red under the EU traffic light system, such as the UK, unless they test negative for Covid-19 five days after arriving in the country.

On the point of testing, the Tánaiste warned that a negative test "does not mean you do not have Covid", saying people should be cautious after receiving their test results as false-negatives remained an issue.

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Asked about the updated guidance on the wearing of face masks, Mr Martin said he did not envisage going down the route of imposing fines on people who fail to wear masks on busy streets, adding people should "use their common sense" regarding what qualifies as a busy street.

Speaking about the decision to keep 'wet pubs' close, the Taoiseach said the research regarding the sector suggested reopening bars that do not serve food would lead to an increase in case numbers.

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From December 4th, restaurants, gastro-pubs and hotels will be permitted to reopen, in contrast to recommendations made by the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) in a letter to the Government before the new measures were decided.

Mr Varadkar said that approximately 150,000 will return to work within the hospitality sector in the coming weeks, reiterating that businesses will be entitled to an additional payment under the Covid Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS) to aid them in reopening.

No change was made to the allowance of spectators at elite and inter-county sporting events, with the Taoiseach saying no consideration was given to the matter of allowing fans to attend the All-Ireland finals next month and the events would go ahead behind closed doors.

Mr Martin added that the need to resume underage sports was a matter which will be assessed in January.

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