Foreign holidays risky: UCC expert's warning on non-essential travel

Foreign holidays risky: UCC expert's warning on non-essential travel
Passengers at Cork AirportPicture: Jim Coughlan.

A UCC-based expert on viruses has said anybody contemplating a foreign holiday doesn’t understand the Covid-19 pandemic after the Government issued a ‘green list’ of safe countries to travel to.

Professor Gerry Killeen cautiously welcomed the Government’s publication of the list — but says he believes now is not the time for non-essential travel.

“I think people should bear in mind that there are not just risks associated with the travelling, but also with the holiday frame of mind,” he said. 

“Anybody who thinks it’s time for an overseas holiday hasn’t understood what ‘pandemic’ means,” he added.

Yesterday,Micheál Martin rejected claims from opposition leader Mary Lou McDonald in the Dáil that his administration’s handling of the travel issue had been “cack-handed”.

Cork North-Central Sinn Féin TD Thomas Gould said the Government’s actions had confused matters further.

However, Cork Airport said the publication of the long-awaited list is “another small step on a long journey to a ‘new normal’ and the recovery of the Irish tourism, hospitality and aviation sectors”.

An empty check-in desk at Cork Airport
An empty check-in desk at Cork Airport

The 15 green listed countries are: Malta, Finland, Norway, Italy, Hungary, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Cyprus, Slovakia, Greece, Greenland, Gibraltar, Monaco and San Marino.

People returning from these countries will not have to restrict their movements for a 14-day period but general advice to avoid non-essential travel will apply to all other countries. People who arrive in Ireland from countries not on the green list will still have to restrict their movements.

Professor Killeen added: "I think I’d call it an orange list. I think it’s a green list when those are Covid free countries."

Head of Communications at Cork Airport, Kevin Cullinane told The Echo that the airport has noted the removal of “the blanket mandatory quarantine” on the 15 countries that are listed “and especially in relation to the flights from Hungary, Italy and Malta served into Cork Airport”.

“This will enable the progressive reopening of inbound and outbound tourism and help to save jobs throughout aviation and hospitality.” 

However, Mr Gould added: “[The Government has] confused matters even worse because now there are two different sets of rules for people to follow, for those who are travelling from one of the 15 countries and for those who are travelling from a country not included on the list with people also still being advised to only travel if it is essential.”

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