New measures are likely to be introduced at Irish airports to monitor people entering Ireland from Europe and other parts of the world to try to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
It comes as the Government officially moved to the Delay phase of Covid-19 engagement and took the unprecedented step of closing all schools creches, colleges, and public buildings until March 29.
Speaking at a briefing in Dublin, Tánaiste and foreign affairs minister Simon Coveney said that new measures will be introduced at airports but confirmed there were no plans to close airports and cancel ferry services.
"It’s certainly our intention to introduce some new measures in our airports for people coming in particular from other parts of Europe and other parts of the world as well so that we leave people in no doubt as to the State’s response to this issue and the responsibility that they have towards that."
"We don’t have any plans to close airports or shut down ferries but certainly I think we will be looking at how we can communicate more directly and more effectively as people use those facilities," he said.
Other transport and travel sector developments include:
In a statement, the National Transport Authority said that, although public transport services will continue to run as normal, it will provide regular updates over the coming days. It also said that public health officials have advised that cleaning and sanitary procedures on the public transport fleet are sufficient for dealing with Covid-19.
"We are aware of the HSE advice to practice social distancing and passengers are asked to be mindful of this when considering the use of public transport," said the statement.
The National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) had called for a major scaling back of capacity to stop the spread of the virus.
NBRU general secretary, Dermot O’Leary, has written to the NTA and said action is needed to allow for adequate social distancing between commuters: "Whilst the numbers travelling have started to drop off, we remain concerned that the seating and standing arrangements on our buses and trains are not in line with recommended best practice."
“The fact is that the current bus and train configuration are not compatible with the ‘social distancing’ advice from the health experts," he said.
US Travel Ban:
US president Donald Trump announced the suspension of all travel to the US from most of Europe in the wake of the crisis.
In short, the US will not permit the entry of any non-US national including Irish nationals, who have visited or are resident in Schengen Area countries 14 days or less prior to their travel to the USA.
The US Government has indicated that this is a temporary restriction that will last for 30 days. This restriction does not apply to travelers from Ireland who have been continually present in Ireland or Britain for at least 14 days prior to their travel to the USA.
Eoghan Corry of Travel Extra said that, although Ireland is excluded from the ban, the reality is that most services from mainland Europe to the US are "no longer viable" and that it "is going to impact heavily on travel and inbound travel to Ireland".
The Department of Foreign Affairs has issued a "do not travel" advisory for Italy after the entire country was placed on lockdown.
Ryanair has suspended all its Italian flights until April 8 and Aer Lingus has cancelled all flights to and from Italy until April.
On Wednesday, the Department upgraded its overall security status in respect of Spain to "exercise a high degree of caution" and advised against non-essential travel to Madrid, Vitoria and Labastida in the Basque Country and La Rioja.
- The HSE have developed an information pack on how to protect yourself and others from coronavirus. Read it here
- Anyone with symptoms of coronavirus who has been in close contact with a confirmed case in the last 14 days should isolate themselves from other people - this means going into a different, well-ventilated room alone, with a phone; phone their GP, or emergency department - if this is not possible, phone 112 or 999 and in a medical emergency (if you have severe symptoms) phone 112 or 999