PEOPLE will be able to fly to Germany, Poland, Cyprus and other European destinations free of Covid restrictions for holidays and other business from next Monday under changes to Government travel advice.
ánaiste Leo Varadkar has said the Green List is to become “a real green list” freeing up people to travel to several European destinations, including for holidays, without having to restrict their movements for 14 days when they return to Ireland.
The Government’s previous overarching advice for people to avoid all non-essential overseas travel, including to Green List countries, has now been amended.
A Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman said while Irish Covid rules would not apply to passengers flying to and returning from countries on the revised ‘Green List’ they would still be subject to those countries’ Covid rules, including possible testing and quarantining. “There is a factor that we don’t control, which is what other countries may require you to do,” he said.
“It has changed,” a coalition spokesperson confirmed to Independent.ie on Wednesday. “Some countries will be added and removed from the Green List tomorrow (Thursday) – but it will only come into force on Monday.”
The travel Green List will have a number of countries added and removed based on the latest data from the European Centre for Disease Control. Ireland is adopting the EU-wide ‘traffic light’ system for safe travel but pending its formal approval next month, the existing Green List will be updated using the same criteria.
This will now happen every Thursday with the changes coming into force the following Monday, the spokesperson said.
This means countries with an incidence rate of fewer than 25 cases per 100,000 over the past 14 days will be green listed. Based on the latest European Centre for Disease Control data, countries on the list will likely include Germany (22.7), Poland (19), Finland (10.6), Lithuania (18.4), Estonia (24.7), Iceland (16.2), Cyprus (5.7), Latvia (4.1), and Liechtenstein (7.8)
Under the changes, people will no longer be advised against all non-essential overseas travel as had been the case when the Green List was originally published in July prompting confusion. Instead, they will be exempt from Covid rules when they travel to countries on the Green List.
There was widespread confusion when the original list was published in July as the coalition insisted that people should still avoid all non-essential travel, even to those locations on the Green List. The list’s only purpose was to inform people travelling back from locations on it that they did not have to restrict their movements for 14 days.
But the Department of Foreign Affairs travel advice now states that ‘Green List’ locations are exempt from the advice against non-essential travel overseas and that ‘normal precautions’ are applied.
“The request to restrict their movements does not apply to individuals arriving into Ireland from these locations,” the advice further adds.
At present the Green List includes Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, and Norway – all of which have their own quarantine or other restrictions for arrivals from other jurisdictions. Four countries on the present list Greece, Greenland, Italy, and Slovakia have no such restrictions. However their increase in incidence rate of the virus will likely see them removed from the list when it is updated on Thursday.
All passengers arriving into Irish ports and airports will still be required to fill out a passenger locator form. Speaking on RTÉ’s Prime Time on RTÉ One on Tuesday, Mr Varadkar confirmed the changes in Government travel advice.
“The travel policy has changed and with that the travel advice has changed. So we are an island nation, we do need to be connected to the rest of the world, not just for business and tourism but also so people can see friends and family and relatives,” he said
He said that pending the adoption of the EU-wide traffic light system, the coalition was “aligning” our Green List with the proposed metrics.
“Any country that has an incidence of less than 25 per 100,000 over 14 days is on the Green List and that is a real green list.
“By green it means we’re saying that you can travel to those countries without any restrictions and of course there is no such thing as no risk but these are all countries that have a lower incidence of the virus than Ireland.”
Mr Varadkar said people “can if they choose to” holiday in these countries.