August is the earliest the country could see a return to international travel, according to the Tánaiste.
Leo Varadkar has confirmed that the Cabinet will decide upon a roadmap to allow international travel recommence in the summer, as revealed by the Irish Examiner.
He said that it could be “August at the earliest” when people could travel, despite other Cabinet sources suggesting it could happen sooner than that.
Mr Varadkar said he had not yet seen the memorandum on the EU digital green cert but indicated a decision to remove EU countries from the mandatory quarantine list may not be taken tomorrow but in due course.
“A lot can go wrong between now and then. A lot can go right too. The law at the moment is that it is against the law to leave Ireland for non-essential reasons.
"We will have to change that law at some point. It does appear there will be a lot of flexibility given to countries as to how they use the digital cert,” he said.
Mr Varadkar said the EU digital green cert will be in place by June but said member states will have six weeks to adopt it.
He confirmed that a scaling down of mandatory hotel quarantine is envisaged, Mr Varadkar said some form of quarantine will have to remain in place for areas of concern where vaccinations are not on par with Ireland.
“It is my fervent hope and ambition that we can restore the Common Travel Area with Britain very soon, this is travel without restrictions so we are hoping to restore that at some point this summer or autumn,” he said adding the hope is then to extend that out to Europe and possibly the United States.
“But there will be parts of the world that will not be vaccinated fully or even extensively until next year. Countries that pursued an elimination approach such as Australia and New Zealand, China and others will not be vaccinated until the middle of next year some time,” he said.
He said countries like Brazil and other parts of the developing world are not as advanced as us in terms of vaccinations.
There will be some form of mandatory hotel quarantine remaining in place for people travelling to and from those “high risk places,” he said.
But when it comes to UK, Europe and the US, it may be possible to go there sooner as they have advanced vaccination programmes he said.
Mr Varadkar was speaking at the virtual launch of James Geoghegan’s campaign as Fine Gael’s candidate for the Dublin Bay South byelection and the Tánaiste made clear he would prefer for it to happen before the summer recess in July.
“I always prefer electioneering in the summer and campaigning in the summer. I did my best to avoid a winter election last time,” he quipped.
“I don’t like schools having to close to hold elections,” he added. “That is not our call and the date has to be set by Minister Darragh O’Brien.”
“I have to speak to the other party leaders but the way it works is that the writ has to be moved in the Dáil, so you can’t move the writ during the recess obviously. So option A is June or July and option B is October,” he said.
“So, we will make a decision on that quite soon,” he added.
During his launch, Mr Geoghegan pitched himself as someone who could represent what he called “generation rent”, or young people locked out of the property market.
The barrister said he has a mortgage with his wife but has rented in the past.
Pressed on his own “posh” background, Mr Geoghegan said he is somebody who has “had a lot of opportunities”.
Mr Geoghegan also sought to distance himself from his past membership of the conservative Renua party.
He said he went along with Lucinda Creighton as her parliamentary assistant, but said he disagreed with her stance on the abortion issue.
He described himself as socially progressive. He also said he doesn't agree with the policies Renua has adopted since Ms Creighton left politics and he returned to the Fine Gael fold.