Cate McCurry, PA
Irish holidaymakers could be permitted to head abroad from July after EU leaders agreed to implement the European digital green certificate.
The pass will pave the way for summer holidays within the 27 EU countries.
Under the scheme, people will receive a digital pass that can be scanned at an airport, indicating they have either been vaccinated, produced a negative Covid test or have recovered from the virus.
It is set to become effective from July 1st, with EU countries given a six-week grace period to implement it.
Earlier, Taoiseach Micheál Martin met with fellow EU leaders in Brussels and said it was "full steam ahead" for the digital green certificate system.
Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien said he wants to see the Government bring in the new system “as soon as possible”.
While he would not commit to a date, Mr O'Brien said it was “absolutely” possible Irish people would be able to travel across the EU in July.
“Thankfully our vaccination programme here has taken off. We have 300,000 people now vaccinated in a week,” he added.
“A few short weeks ago people would have thought that not possible, so thankfully because of that there has to be a vaccine bonus as well.”
Mr O’Brien said the aviation sector supports nearly 150,000 jobs across the country.
“In Dublin Airport there’s 20,000 direct jobs on campus, and Dublin Airport alone is responsible for 3% of gross national product.
“On non-essential travel this year, would I like to see that happening this summer when it can be done safely? Absolutely.
“It can be done in July, absolutely, I want to see it as soon as we can.
“We’re an island nation within Europe, our businesses depend on it and I want people, if they have the resources, to have a holiday this year.
“I’d like them to do that in Ireland to support businesses that have suffered so greatly over the last 14 and 15 months.
“But I think having air travel back as well when it could be done safety really points towards us getting back toward normality.”
He said Minister will discuss international travel, indoor hospitality and sports events during Friday’s Cabinet meeting before Taoiseach Micheál Martin makes an announcement on the reopening dates.
“I’m not going to tie us to a date yet, I think it’s appropriate that I let the discussions happen at Cabinet on Friday, there will be an update,” Mr O’Brien added.
“We need to get the aviation sector back open and running and that’s what I want to see and I think we can recover.
“It’ll be one of the main items on the agenda on Friday and I’ll advocate certainly for as expeditious a reopening of that sector as possible.”
It comes as guidelines on the reopening of the hospitality sector are set to be published today by Fáilte Ireland, which are expected to feature a one-metre distance between tables, with a maximum of six people per booking.
The guidelines will include indoor and outdoor dining. Outdoor hospitality is to reopen on June 7th, while the Government is to confirm on Friday the date indoor hospitality can resume, which is expected for July.