Jack Quann
Jack Quann

20.21 30 Jun 2020


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The head of the Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA) has said Ireland has 'one chance to get it right' in relation to air travel and COVID-19.

Pat Dawson told The Hard Shoulder travel will have to open up to keep the economy going.

He also said that air bridges - travel agreements between states that have low transmission rates - is the best option going forward.

"I think the air bridges is the best solution so far.

"How that works is that the airports, aircraft and countries that are nominated - that they have only once chance to get this right.

"Like our country, we've one chance to get it right as such.

"They must make sure that everything's in order for people going down there.

"And you only pick the countries with like-minded cases.

"The problem, Ivan, is there is no bar set... as we're hearing from Europe, they're backtracking to the last 14 days, taking an average of that and then picking the countries.

"There's no clear criteria whatsoever."

On the 14-day quarantine for incoming passengers, he said: "There is a ban inbound and outbound - when you have a quarantine, it's as good as [a ban].

"Nobody's going to come to Ireland and quarantine for 14 days as such if they're coming here to do business, which many want to, or if they're coming here on holidays.

"And the same thing with the outbound situation".

"We have to take little risks, or our country will be dead and buried for the next three or four years and we'll never, never recover economically.

On potential air bridges with Ireland, he said: "There's no criteria, Ivan, set that you're in or you're out.

"So we need clarification from the Government as to where they set the bar."

"Certainly the USA is in bad trouble as we speak, the UK - England in particular - I think Scotland's fine, I think Wales seems to be fine and Spain seems to be OK.

"But there needs to be the experts to say 'we have a bar, we have set the bar up and you qualify and you don't qualify'.

"And it's the professional people, the medical people and the Government decide on that".

COVID-19: Ireland 'has one chance' to get air travel right

00:00:00 / 00:00:00

    

A list of countries Irish people can travel to without quarantining is set to be published soon.

However Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said earlier he could not guarantee the list would be in place by July 9th.

"Two weeks ago, you might have looked at Portugal and said Portugal has a very low rate of COVID," he said.

"It has been consistently low so that is an obvious country to put on a green list – but just in the last few days, Portugal has seen a big surge," he said.

"There are countries like Sweden and the UK, or not so much the UK but the island of Britain, where the rates are significantly higher than ours so there is a lot of detail that would need to be worked through on this.

"You could have a situation where 'country X' was put on a list, people in good faith went to work or holiday in 'country X' and while they were there, we would have to say, 'actually it is no longer on the list and people would have to come home and self-isolate.'"

He also said no decision has been made as to whether Britain will be included on the list.

The European Union has adopted a recommendation on the gradual lifting of the temporary restrictions on non-essential travel.

This includes allowing people in from so-called third countries - such as Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

The United States, Brazil and Russia are not included on this list.

However the list does not apply to Ireland, as it is not a member of the Schengen Area.

Main image: Travellers wearing a face masks look at a display board at Munich Airport in Germany that lists numerous international destinations. Picture by: Matthias Balk/DPA/PA Images

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Air Bridges Air Travel Covid-19 Green List ITAA Ireland Irish Travel Agents Association Pat Dawson Schengen Area The Hard Shoulder Travel

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