Cork GP says people travelling home to Ireland this Christmas should not be 'shamed' 

Cork GP says people travelling home to Ireland this Christmas should not be 'shamed' 

Dr John Sheehan of Blackpool Bridge Surgery said there is “a huge pent-up want for people to meet their family and spend Christmas together”, but people must be sensible.

A CORK GP has said that people travelling home to Ireland from other countries this Christmas should not be “shamed” as each case is “individual”.

Dr John Sheehan of Blackpool Bridge Surgery said there is “a huge pent-up want for people to meet their family and spend Christmas together”, but people must be sensible.

“I think we have to be practical and know that this Christmas may be a bit different to every other Christmas, but the reality for a lot of people is that they will be coming home, they may have nowhere else to go, or they might have elderly relatives whose time might be limited, they will feel that need to come,” he said.

“I don’t think they should be shamed because each case is very much individual.”

His comments follow a CSO survey showing that more than one in two respondents believe people travelling to Ireland from ‘red’ regions under the EU traffic light system should not be allowed enter the country this Christmas.

The fourth round of the Social Impact of Covid-19 Survey, carried out between Thursday, November 12 and Wednesday, November 18, covered topics such as worries in relation to celebrating Christmas, expectations around international travel, and opinions related to restrictions that should apply to persons travelling to Ireland.

The published results show that 53.7% of respondents believe people from red regions should not enter the country, while 22.9% believe that passengers coming from orange regions and 10.3% believe that passengers coming from green regions should not be allowed enter the country.

As of November 29, passengers arriving from red regions can have their restriction on movement lifted, if a Covid-19 test five days following arrival is negative, an approach which 17.4% of respondents agreed with.

Meanwhile, 17.8% believed that passengers from red regions should restrict their movements for 14 days.

In line with EU recommendation, there are no entry restrictions on passengers travelling from green regions, an approach which just under 11% of respondents agree with.

10.3% believe that passengers from green regions should not be allowed to enter the country.

78.9% believe that passengers from green regions should be subject to some restrictions such as a pre or post-arrival negative Covid-19 test or movement restrictions upon their arrival.

Dr Sheehan said that although people have expressed concern, the “evidence so far in terms of travel and people coming into Ireland spreading the virus, has shown that it is very low spread from people coming into Ireland”.

“Most spread tends to happen in the gatherings we know of already and really that’s going to be the same for Christmas, the challenge will be the gatherings of people already in Ireland spreading it to each other,” he said.

The survey’s findings, which statistician Lianora Bermingham said “serve to highlight the impact that Covid-19 is having on society”, also highlighted peoples’ expectations on flying, which differed depending on whether the respondent had a family member living abroad.

53.9% expect to take their next international flight sometime before the end of 2021, while 36% expect that their next flight will be sometime in 2022 and 6.8% expect that it will be in 2023 or later.

63% of respondents with an immediate family member living abroad expect to take their next international flight before the end of 2021, compared with the 43.5% that do not have an immediate family member living abroad.

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