Coveney: 5km travel restriction could be eased from April

Simon Coveney says he's hopeful the Government will find a way to ease the 5km travel restriction...
Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

11.04 24 Mar 2021

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Coveney: 5km travel restrictio...

Coveney: 5km travel restriction could be eased from April

Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

11.04 24 Mar 2021

Share this article

Simon Coveney says he's hopeful the Government will find a way to ease the 5km travel restriction in April.

The Foreign Affairs Minister says there'll be some 'limited' easing of restrictions next month, but he expects the situation will improve significantly as we go into May and June.

He says there is a plan in place, but acknowledges it isn't moving fast enough as many people would like.


After months of level five lockdown, Cabinet will decide next week which restrictions to ease - with an easing of the measures around outdoor gatherings said to be under consideration.

On The Pat Kenny Show, Minister Coveney said it's vital to avoid a repeat of the surge that happened over Christmas, and Cabinet will make their decision based on data and evidence.

Coveney: 5km travel restriction could be eased from April

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He said: “I think you will see the Government looking at areas like the 5km restriction, and hopefully finding a way to ease that somewhat… looking at ensuring our children go back to school… and also looking at more outdoor activity.

"I hope we’ll be able to discuss with NPHET and our public health team and Cabinet colleagues a way of doing that safely.”

He said reopening construction is also being discussed, as every week of closure has an impact on housing delivery.

Minister Coveney said the debate about reopening will change as more and more people are vaccinated.

He said: “For the months of April, May and June, we hope to have a million or more vaccines coming into the country every month.

“I don’t think international travel is going to open up, even with the presence of a lot more vaccine.

"But I think the debate changes because the risk linked to COVID in terms of illness and death changes dramatically as we have more and more vulnerable people vaccinated and protected... and more and more people who are less vulnerable protected as well."

He stressed that easing restrictions will be cautious, and done step by step - as authorities won’t be taking the risk of allowing a fourth wave or new strain to emerge.

Vaccine row

The Foreign Affairs Minister also said it doesn't make sense to risk reducing vaccine production by banning exports between countries.

The European Union is threatening to ban the export of a stockpile of AstraZeneca doses finished in Italy, as the company has missed its European delivery targets.

It sets up a potential stand-off between the EU and UK over who will get the stockpile - which is said to run to tens of millions of doses.

An EU announcement is expected later today, but Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney has said the Government here believes banning exports is the wrong approach.

Minister Coveney said some vaccine companies - AstraZeneca in particular - have not delivered the doses contracted to the EU, and that's led to ‘suspicions’ that they have delivered to other countries.

However, he said tough EU action could result in retaliation from other trading blocs - which could slow down the pace of vaccine manufacturing.

He said there's a need to resolve the diplomatic rows over vaccines, while also letting companies know they have to deliver promised doses to the EU.

He acknowledged the EU vaccine rollout has had its flaws, but the alternative would have been ‘chaotic’ - adding that the bloc should be in a very strong position by mid-summer.

Minister Coveney also defended Ireland's new mandatory hotel quarantine system, which comes into force from Friday for all arrivals from 33 countries.

He said Ireland has "more stringent laws in place in terms of international travel than any other country in Europe".

He said putting people arrivals here into 'detention' in hotels isn't an ideal solution, but it 'goes beyond' what other European countries are doing.

The minister noted it will also apply to Irish people who do need to come home from impacted countries, but the move is needed to avoid new strains of coronavirus coming into Ireland.

Main image: File photo of Simon Coveney. Picture by: Sam Boal /

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