| 11.8°C Dublin

Temperature checks could replace 14-day quarantine for air travellers in future

Close

Eamon Ryan says a waiver on the 14-day quarantine requirement is being looked at

Eamon Ryan says a waiver on the 14-day quarantine requirement is being looked at

PA

Eamon Ryan says a waiver on the 14-day quarantine requirement is being looked at

Air passengers who take a Covid test could have the 14-day quarantine requirement waived in future, Transport Minister Eamon Ryan has revealed.

He also suggested in the Dáil the Government's upcoming medium-term plan for dealing with the pandemic - due to be announced in less than two weeks - is more important than the upcoming Budget.

It comes as the Government faced criticism about its approach to containing the virus and its failure to update the so-called Green List of safer countries for foreign travel.

Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall claimed in the Dáil the Coalition "took your eye off the ball" in relation to the pandemic.

The Government is not playing its part in ensuring there's adequate capacity in the testing-and-tracing system and in ensuring proper controls at ports and airports, she said.

Ms Shortall said she does not believe there is capacity for 100,000 tests per week. "When is the Government going to play its part in responding to the virus?" she asked Mr Ryan.

Coherent

Mr Ryan insisted Government was working "collectively" and "coherently" in managing the Covid crisis and its economic impact. He said the HSE has the capacity to carry out 100,000 tests per week if it needs to and turnaround times for results are down.

In relation to aviation Mr Ryan said there's "a balancing act between protecting lives and protecting livelihoods" and he added: "We do need connectivity to other countries."

He said the data shows the level of virus coming in from international travel is low but there must be vigilance.

Mr Ryan said the Government is preparing for approaching the pandemic over the next six to 18 months in the absence of a vaccine and these preparations will include international travel.

He said this plan will be announced on September 14.

Mr Ryan said he met his officials yesterday and they are working with the Departments of Health and the Taoiseach on examining international travel elsewhere.

Other countries are "requiring testing arrangements in relation to air travel that may reduce the risk of increased air travel and they may allow us to in certain instances waive the requirements to have a 14-day restriction on travel when someone comes in here," he said.

Ms Shortall said there needs to be action rather than "vague promises".

Mr Ryan said responding to the Covid crisis is the "most important thing Government has to do".

Normality

He said the medium-term plan "is as important, if not more important, to my mind than the Budget facing us because actually how we manage this would allow a return to some normality of life as the manage with Covid and try to minimise it and try to suppress it."

Sinn Féin transport spokesman Darren O'Rourke later criticised the Government for not updating the Green List of destinations where the 14-day quarantine requirement is already waived for passengers arriving here.

He said the list was introduced in July with a commitment to review it every two weeks.

"This is particularly concerning as it's one of the only tools the Government have actually introduced to try and limit the spread of Covid-19 through foreign travel, as we still have no... testing in our airports," Mr O'Rourke said.

"It's completely unacceptable that such an important source of information for people is now a month out of date."

A Government spokesperson said: "The public health advice has not changed, which is against all non-essential travel."