Ireland releases 'green list' of countries for travel

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By Benjamin Cooper, PA

Ireland's government has released its "green list" of countries for safe travel, with Italy and Greece included but the UK a notable omission.

People arriving from Malta, Finland, Norway, Italy, Hungary, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Cyprus, Slovakia, Greece, Greenland, Gibraltar, Monaco and San Marino will not be required to isolate for two weeks.

Others arriving from overseas - with limited exceptions such as essential supply chain workers - are required to fill in a passenger locator form and self-quarantine for 14 days.

People crossing the border from Northern Ireland are not subject to restrictions on their movement.

The UK was expected to be excluded, as only countries with a coronavirus infection rate the same or lower than Ireland were allowed on the list. Holiday destinations such as France, Spain and Portugal have also been omitted.

Dr Martin Daly, a former president of the Irish Medical Organisation, explains his concern

The government said in a statement following a Cabinet meeting it would "continue with plans to strengthen the existing measures for monitoring passengers who arrive into Ireland, including the introduction of an Electronic Passenger Locator Form, enhanced follow-up procedures, a call centre operated by the DAA, and a proposed testing regime for symptomatic passengers at airports and ports".

It added it would consider processes to restrict flights "in certain circumstances".

"The Pandemic is not over and the public health advice remains the same. The safest thing to do is not to travel," the government statement said.

The list was labelled as confusing by opposition parties prior to its release.

Roisin Shortall, the Social Democrats co-leader, said that the "big weakness" in Ireland's pandemic response is the failure to control the importation of the virus from abroad.

She said: "The promised announcement of the green list for countries considered as safe, while at the same time advising against all non-essential travel is inherently contradictory.

"But of much more concern is the government's ambiguity about travel from countries that are not on the green list.

"Not only has the government operated a self-isolate policy which has been largely unenforceable over recent months, but inexplicably in the last few weeks the travel advice has actually changed and weakened for those countries.

"Incoming travellers are now advised to merely restrict their movements.

"This poses a huge risk to our health, the lives of our vulnerable and to our economy."

The agriculture minister, however, has said the government is not scared to make tough calls to prioritise public health.

Dara Calleary said pushing back the reopening date for all pubs demonstrated that ministers would not baulk at taking unpopular decisions in order to suppress Covid-19.

Meanwhile, coronavirus outbreaks are happening in construction, fast food and supermarket workplaces, Ireland's acting chief medical officer warned on Monday night.

Dr Ronan Glynn said people cannot underestimate how quickly clusters develop.

The health system has been notified of 36 new confirmed cases, bringing the overall tally to 25,802 on Tuesday night.

No more deaths have been recorded.

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