Aviation and tourism officials expressed alarm after it was signalled that the Government’s Green List for travel during the Covid-19 pandemic will be slashed to just four countries from next week.
One airline official warned the new Green List would effectively cripple an already devastated industry.
In a Government briefing memo – seen by the Irish Independent – it was confirmed Ireland would drop four countries from the current list.
That’s because they have exceeded the stipulated Covid-19 rate of 25 cases per 100,000 people based on data from the European Centre for Disease Control.
Those countries are Iceland (90.5), Germany (27.3), Lithuania (27.5) and Poland (25.6). The new, revised Green List will come into effect from September 28.
Just a single country, Liechtenstein (20.8), will be added to the list – leaving only four countries that people can travel to or from without having to restrict their movements on return.
Those countries, from next Monday, will be Cyprus, Finland, Latvia and Liechtenstein. However, three of those countries will require travellers from Ireland to undergo either pre-travel Covid-19 tests, tests on arrival or a period of self-isolation.
Travel officials said it would inevitably result in only urgent and essential travel being undertaken.
The Green List will be revised on a weekly basis until the Government formally adopts the EU’s new Traffic Light system next month for helping the battered aviation industry recover.
Until midnight on Sunday, September 27, the current Green List of seven countries remains in place.
Travellers intending to go to those countries are advised to follow normal precautions for travel from Ireland – but will have to comply with whatever Covid-19 control measures are in place in their arrival destination.
Dublin was added to the German virus testing and check list on Wednesday evening. The next Green List review will take place next Thursday, October 1, with any changes taking effect from Monday October 5.
However, the Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA) warned that the Green List of countries to which people can travel without quarantining is not dependable.
ITAA chief executive Pat Dawson said the list provided no security due to its ever-changing nature.
“You won’t go on holidays if there’s something hanging over you that could change, and you could have to leave a country in 24 hours,” he said.
Galway-based Fahy Travel boss Maura Fahy, said business had ground to a halt. “We haven’t sold a holiday since the Green List came out,” she said.
Dale Manning, owner of Manning Travel in Kilkenny, echoed those sentiments and explained how it had made them more cautious.
A few weeks ago, they received several inquiries about Greece – but the popular holiday destination was taken off the list last week.