A so-called ‘green list’ of countries it is safe for Irish people to travel to is due to be issued next week.
Irish people have been warned that unnecessary travel abroad is “just too big a risk to be allowed to happen” ahead of the anticipated lifting of travel restrictions in the coming weeks.
Speaking on Morning Ireland, Chair of the epidemiological modelling advisory group at NPHET, Philip Nolan, said that an increase in the number of travel-related cases of Covid-19 in Ireland in recent days should serve as a warning of the risks of unnecessary travel abroad.
Nolan pointed out that approximately 11 out of 100 cases of Covid-19 in Ireland in the last fortnight were travel-related, but travel restrictions in this country are expected to be eased more significantly in the coming weeks.
“The difficulty with travel-related cases is they can often get into the country and begin to spread before you detect them,” Nolan said.
“So it’s a particularly dangerous form of introduction of the virus, it spreads quite quickly.”
“This is an early warning sign of the potential for travel-related infection to increase,” Nolan added.
Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast on Monday, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Defence Simon Coveney said that a ‘green list’ of countries it is safe for Irish people to travel to should be issued by 9 July.
“We need to be cautious in relation to international travel, but at the same time we also need to take note of what is happening across the European Union and to make sure that Ireland is consistent with that,” Coveney said.
Domestic travel restrictions in Ireland have been lifted as Phase 3 of the roadmap for reopening society and business came into effect as of today (29 June).
Last week, in an interim report, an aviation taskforce recommended that international travel restrictions should begin to be lifted by this Wednesday (1 July) and recommended that quarantine measures for incoming passengers be lifted on the same date.
A final report from the taskforce is due on 10 July.
In lifting travel restrictions, Ireland will pay close attention to the situation elsewhere in European Union, where a number of countries have already opened their borders to foreign visitors.
Speaking on Morning Ireland, Philip Nolan stressed the importance of a “connected effort” across the EU, saying: “We do want to increase the amount of travel over time that can occur across Europe, but it does need to be connected effort.
“We need to be very clear on the criteria, we need to be very clear on the data across countries that tells us what’s safe and what’s not safe.”
Sounding a note of caution about rushing to travel abroad when restrictions are lifted, Nolan said: “We need to do it in a prioritised manner and we need to do it carefully and, certainly from my perspective right now, unnecessary travel abroad is just too big a risk to be allowed to happen.”
“Just because we can do something now doesn’t mean we should do,” he added.