HEALTH MINISTER SIMON Harris has said foreign travel for the Irish public is looking “highly unlikely this year”.
The minister also confirmed that a working group has been set up by the Taoiseach to establish if it can be made mandatory for those returning to Ireland – Irish citizens or not – to self isolate for a period of two weeks.
“At the moment it is not looking good for foreign travel. The advice still remains that should not leave the island of Ireland,” said Harris at the Department of Health this afternoon.
Harris said “being truthful to people it is looking highly unlikely this year”.
Even if the travel advice did change and people could book holidays abroad, they would still have to self isolate for two weeks upon their return, he said.
“All of a sudden… your two-week holidays becomes four weeks,” he said. He added that most countries are still advising that people do not travel.
Speaking about possible regulations to make it mandatory to self-isolate, he said:
“We now have a measure in our airports, that when you come in now you fill in a passenger form where you are committing to self isolate for 14 days. That’s whether you’re Irish, or not, regardless.
“The Taoiseach has asked a number of ministries to consider with the Attorney General whether we need to underpin that form by regulation and we will make a decision on that in the coming weeks.”
Passengers travelling into Ireland are currently being asked to complete a Public Health Passenger Locator form, showing their contact details and the address at which they will self-isolate.
At the moment, very few people are coming to Ireland through airports or ports, he said.
He said long-term planning and a “robust system” is needed.
If people are travelling to Ireland, it will be “really important” that they self-isolate.
“Because we could be doing everything right here. We need to make sure that we don’t
import the virus,” he said.
Recently, the Taoiseach said “it is not monitored enough” when asked how or if people are checked on when they arrive in Ireland.
“I think we need to do more on that, particularly as we reopen the country, and as we reopen foreign travel, we’re going to need to have these mechanisms in place to make sure that there are controls,” said the Taoiseach.