Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary has said it is nonsense that restaurants and bars in Ireland are still closed and children under the age of 18 could not travel with their vaccinated parents without a negative PCR test, or having to quarantine for 14 days on their return.
There were no such restrictions in the UK or elsewhere in the EU, he told RTÉ radio’s Today with Claire Byrne show.
This was “more of 'scariant variant' coming out of Nphet (National Public Health Emergency Team),” he added.
While he said he would not “belittle” the Delta variant, “what the HSE and Nphet keep ignoring is that the link between case numbers and serious illness and hospitalisations has effectively been broken by the vaccine,” Mr O'Leary said.
"We have 27 other EU member states who have, from July 1st, removed travel restrictions for vaccinated adults and children under-18.
"Ireland is the only country out of 28 members, that hasn't issued the Digital Covid Cert and is now saying that children under-18 who do not pose a risk cannot travel without a PCR test and quarantine," he added.
All vulnerable groups in Ireland had been vaccinated, the rest of Europe had moved on, but "in Ireland we're still hiding in the dark corner with Nphet out there pontificating on about their 'scariant variant' when we have 17 people in ICUs and only 50 people in our hospitals," Mr O'Leary said.
“With the greatest of respect, Nphet keep coming out with 'oh case numbers, case numbers' which have been rising for the last three weeks with no significant increase in either ICUs or hospitalisations. The link has essentially been broken,” he added.
Mr O’Leary asked “why would you have to lockdown schools in September when, by that time, we will have 60 per cent of our adult population fully vaccinated and you'll start vaccinating the children as well?”
Vaccination had completely changed this whole narrative, he said. "We're not going to be locking down schools. There will be a rise in Delta cases, what there won't be is a rise in hospitalisations or an overwhelmed ICU system," he added.
Mr O’Leary said increased cases had not seen a rise in hospitalisations or serious illness because all vulnerable groups had been vaccinated.
Nphet is there with their nonsense about keeping the restaurants closed.
“We're still talking about locking people up, keeping people locked down, Nphet is there with their nonsense about keeping the restaurants closed.
“We have to include under-18 children in whatever measures we take, so that families can move together whether to go for a meal in a restaurant, or a holiday in Portugal.
“The real prize here is to get our tourism industry restarted - we need to start welcoming UK families in here,” he said.
Vaccination has transformed the situation, he added: “We have 27 other EU states where people are free to move around, who are vaccinated, children under-18 can eat in restaurants. In Ireland we're still locked up.
“Who is it we are protecting with these ridiculous and frankly, unique, lockdown measures which apply in no other member state?” he asked.
“Other countries have opened up and they've done it without scare stories from Nphet and RTÉ,” Mr O'Leary said.