Easing travel restrictions is part of medium-term Covid-19 plan

Easing travel restrictions is part of medium-term Covid-19 plan

Minister Eamon Ryan said the plan will "restore livelihoods as well as protect lives".  File picture: Julien Behal 

An easing of international travel restrictions is expected to be included in the Government's medium-term Covid plan.

Minister Eamon Ryan has told the Dáil that the road-map, to be published on September 14, will be more important than the Budget and will allow people to return to some sort of normality in the coming months.

It is expected that changes will be made to the guidelines around international travel with Mr Ryan stating that it would contain "a planned approach allowing for connectivity".

Mr Ryan said the plan will "restore livelihoods as well as protect lives".

He said this medium-term roadmap "is as important if not more important" than the upcoming Budget.

"The government has to now start preparing for the next, six, nine, 18 months, a medium term approach, in the absence of a vaccine. We have to manage it and included in that we will have to manage international travel," he said.

Responding to questioning from Social Democrats TD Róisín Shortall he said: "It is important, as important if not more important in my mind than the Budget facing us, because how we manage this will allow a return to some normality of life as we manage with Covid and try and minimise it and try and suppress it."

However, Ms Shortall said the Government response to testing and tracing has been "wholly inadequate" and accused the Minister of "jumping ahead" and talking about a medium-term plan when there is a real-time problem.

"There seems to be a mindset within the Government that a second lockdown is inevitable. Indeed, the Minister for Health said as much last week. 

"Increasingly, there is a sense among the public that they are forgoing so many different aspects of normal life while the business community is paying an enormous price. But the other key partner in all of this, the Government, is not playing its part," she told the Dáil.

Mr Ryan said 58,000 tests had been carried out last week with many of these targeted at nursing homes and meat plants which have seen outbreaks.

Sinn Féin's Pearse Doherty raised the massive backlog in cancer screening services as a result of Covid and said a catch-up programme is urgently needed.

Mr Ryan responded by stating that containing Covid is important and the Government will "not lose sight of other preventative measures that can save lives".

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