Transport Minister Eamon Ryan has warned against 'flight shaming' people who travel home for Christmas from abroad.
Up to 50,000 people are expected to make the trip back to Ireland by air for Christmas amid the continuing Covid-19 pandemic.
Mr Ryan said the Government is not encouraging people to return to Ireland but does recognise some will have to travel.
He said it could be someone with a lonely parent, who has been away for a very long time or who has to travel for work reasons, adding: "What we shouldn't be doing is shaming those people."
Speaking on Newstalk's On the Record with Gavan Reilly show yesterday, the Transport Minister said prospective air passengers are the best people to make the call on whether they really need to travel and he doesn't think it's up to the Government.
He said he checked with DAA - the agency that runs Dublin Airport - and the forward bookings for flights are "very low" at about 10pc of normal levels.
"The reality is there'll be far less people traveling and I think that's a good thing," he said.
He said more people may book flights at short notice but people will make their own decision on whether or not it is safe to travel, particularly if they are coming from high-risk countries.
"They won't want to bring home the risk of the virus to their own loved ones. So I think people will have to use their own judgment. And I think we should respect that," Mr Ryan said.
"We're not promoting a huge amount of people returning. We don't want to see a big influx because we do have to manage this."