People who are not vaccinated who wish to travel on holidays abroad will have to pay for their own Covid-19 tests privately, Minister of State Ossian Smyth has said.
When non-essential international travel resumes from July 19th, people who wish to travel either must have had a Covid-19 vaccine, or present a negative PCR test before travelling.
The cost of PCR tests range from upwards of €100, while cheaper antigen tests can be less than half that.
Speaking on Saturday, Mr Smyth admitted the requirement to pay for PCR tests would make international travel “costly”.
“If you want to get tested before travel, you have to get a private test, you can’t go along to the HSE and say I want to go on holidays, will you test me for free,” he said.
“The State is not going to test you for free before you go away on a holiday,” the Green Party TD told RTÉ's Saturday with Katie Hannon show.
PCR or antigen
The Government opted to require PCR tests for incoming and outbound travellers, taken no more than three days before departure. Public health officials have expressed scepticism around the use of alternative antigen tests, due to their lower accuracy and the possibility for false negatives.
Sinn Féin TD Darren O’Rourke said the requirement for a PCR test would place a high cost on people looking to travel.
The use of antigen testing before departure at airports should be trialled over the next month, for essential travel between Dublin and London, ahead of non-essential travel resuming, he said.
“You could do it now for the period of a month and you’d have clear information about how this system works,” he said.
Speaking on the same programme, Prof Mary Horgan, a consultant at Cork University Hospital and president of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland, said antigen testing should be “further embraced” to help the reopening of society, but added there had been a “reluctance” from health officials around relying on the tests.