Further delay in travel 'green list' likely

Further delay in travel 'green list' likely
File Image: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

The "green list" for foreign travel may not be announced tomorrow amid further confusion about foreign tourism.

The list is to include countries where rates of new coronavirus cases are similar to or lower than Ireland, and those returning from those countries will not have to undergo a 14-day quarantine.

It was widely expected to be unveiled on Monday, but had been delayed after the scheduled cabinet meeting was postponed due to marathon talks in Brussels failing to reach a conclusion, detaining Taoiseach Micheál Martin in the Belgian capital for another day.

It's understood the list, which is still under development is to be "very limited", according to government sources, if it's announced at all, with holiday hotspots such as Spain, Britain and the US omitted from the countries deemed "safe" to visit.

It's understood that there is ongoing tension within the coalition partners over publishing the list, with Fianna Fáil and the Greens opposed to the idea.

Public health experts have pointed out the contradiction of asking the public not to travel unless for essential purposes, yet also publishing a list of countries it is safe to visit. It's understood this concern has been flagged by cabinet members to their colleagues, stating their wish to take "a more cautious" approach.

A government source told the Irish Examiner that the issue would be "one to watch", and that senior cabinet members have refused to discuss the matter further, even with their own party colleagues as they believe "things might change after the cabinet meeting as there is a lot to be thrashed out".

"There's much to be discussed and because of the lack of communication, that's why unfortunately it seems like mixed messages," they said.

The mood is changing but the public health advice hasn't changed since the idea of a list was first mooted, so now there's confusion and the pushing back of the cabinet meeting is not making things easier.

"It will come down to the wire."

Another government source said that it was "unfortunate" the Taoiseach Micheál Martin had to leave this week, and said the list had presented a significant "bump in the road" for the new government.

"I don't think anyone wants it to be confusing, but it requires a cabinet decision, and as it's still in development and the Taoiseach is away, that can't happen," they said.

"To be honest I wouldn't be holding my breath, if the stimulus is as big as we think it is, that's going to take up most of the cabinet meeting.

"It could be Wednesday before they decide whether to publish the list or not."

The public health advice from NPHET remains that people should not make unessential overseas trips and should holiday in Ireland this summer.

Sinn Féin has echoed Dr Gabriel Scally that the island should be seen as "one epidemiological unit".

"What the government is effectively saying at the moment with the 'green list' is; the planes can take off but you can't be on them," Louise O'Reilly of Sinn Féin said. "It really doesn't make any sense.

"At the moment, there's confusion, green to me says 'Go', they really need to come out with proper and clear advice, not just for Irish people who are going to be travelling, but also for people who are going to be coming here too."

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