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Germany and Poland likely on 'real Green List' as holiday travel options open up

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Leo Varadkar

Leo Varadkar

Leo Varadkar

People will be able to fly to Germany, Poland, Cyprus and other European destinations for holidays and other business from next Monday under changes to Government travel advice.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said the Green List is to become "a real green list", freeing up people to travel to several European destinations without having to restrict their movements for 14 days when they return.

The Government's previous advice for people to avoid all non-essential overseas travel, including to Green List countries, has now been amended.

"It has changed," a coalition spokesperson confirmed to the Herald yesterday.

"Some countries will be added and removed from the Green List today - but it will only come into force on Monday."

A Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman said while Irish rules would not apply to passengers flying to and from countries on the revised list, they would still be subject to the Covid rules in those countries.

"There is a factor that we don't control, which is what other countries may require you to do," he said.

The travel Green List will have a number of countries added and removed based on the latest data from the European Centre for Disease Control.

Ireland is adopting the EU-wide 'traffic light' system for safe travel, but pending its formal approval next month, the existing Green List will be updated using the same criteria.

This will happen every Thursday, with the changes coming into force the following Monday, the spokesperson said.

Exempt

This means countries with an incidence rate of fewer than 25 cases per 100,000 over the past 14 days will be green listed.

Based on the latest data, countries on the list will likely include Germany (22.7), Poland (19), Finland (10.6), Lithuania (18.4), Estonia (24.7), Iceland (16.2), Cyprus (5.7), Latvia (4.1), and Liechtenstein (7.8)

Under the changes, people will no longer be advised against all non-essential overseas travel as had been the case when the Green List was originally published in July.

Instead, they will be exempt from Covid rules when they travel to countries on the Green List.

There was widespread confusion when the original list was published in July as the Coalition insisted people should still avoid all non-essential travel, even to those places on the Green List.

The list's only purpose was to inform people travelling back from places on it that they did not have to restrict their movements for 14 days.

But the Department of Foreign Affairs' travel advice now states that 'Green List' places are exempt from the advice against non-essential travel overseas and that 'normal precautions' are applied.

"The request to restrict their movements does not apply to individuals arriving into Ireland from these locations," the advice further adds.

At present the Green List includes Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, and Norway - all of which have their own quarantine or other restrictions for arrivals.

Four countries on the present list Greece, Greenland, Italy, and Slovakia have no such restrictions.

However, their increase in incidence rate of the virus will likely see them removed from the list when it is updated today. All passengers arriving into Ireland will still be required to fill out a passenger locator form.

Connected

Speaking on RTÉ's Prime Time on Tuesday, Mr Varadkar confirmed the changes in Government travel advice.

"The travel policy has changed and with that the travel advice has changed.

"We are an island nation, we do need to be connected to the rest of the world, not just for business and tourism but also so people can see friends and family and relatives," he said.

"By green it means we're saying you can travel to those countries without any restrictions and of course there is no such thing as no risk but these are all countries that have a lower incidence of the virus than Ireland."

Mr Varadkar said people "can if they choose to" holiday in these countries.