Rapid Covid-19 tests could be in place at Irish airports by Christmas, says Ryan

Transport Minister Eamon Ryan says pre-departure testing could 'free people from the two-week rule' around restricting  movements
Rapid Covid-19 tests could be in place at Irish airports by Christmas, says Ryan

Transport Minister Eamon Ryan said tests at airports, which could cost €100 each, could eliminate the need to quarantine. File Picture: Brian Lawless

The Transport Minister said he hopes that rapid Covid-19 testing is in place at airports by Christmas.

However, Eamon Ryan said it is likely the cost of testing will be borne by passengers.

Mr Ryan said that pre-departure testing could "free people from the two-week rule" around restricting their movements and the measures are needed to ensure that Ireland's economy could recover.

He said the aim was to have the system in place for Christmas, which would allow emigrants return home to visit their families, but said that the issue went beyond just that period.

"It is not just for Christmas, we have to think into next year. We are an island we have to make sure that we retain connectivity and that people who do have to travel can travel and do so in a way that is safe and  works for them."

However, Mr Ryan later said that the tests, which would be priced around €100 were "not cheap" and that cost would likely be paid by the passenger. He said that the EU traffic light system, which Cabinet signed up to last week and which will come into effect on November 8, was international best practice.

"The airports may well set up testing, but people will be able to avail of it in other places.

We're following World Health Organisation and European health and Irish health authority advice. If you restrict your movements for five days and get a PCR test and are clear, you can go about your business

"We're following World Health Organisation and European health and Irish health authority advice. If you restrict your movements for five days and get a PCR test and are clear, you can go about your business."

DAA, which runs Cork and Dublin Airports, meanwhile told the Oireachtas Transport Committee that it is working with the National Virus Reference Lab and the HSE to establish rapid antigen and Lamp testing but that it needs additional supports.

Dalton Philips, the company's CEO, said that testing prior to departure "is a safer alternative to restrictions as it would mean we can screen out a significant proportion of the risk before a passenger arrives in Ireland".

DAA has previously submitted plans to install a testing facility in one of its car parks at each airport but requires a planning exemption which has thus far not been granted.

Mr Philips said that the turnaround time for "gold standard" PCR tests is too long to be viable for the sector.

"To truly get people moving again — and the economy firing, we will need to look at alternative options such as Lamp and Antigen testing."

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