Jack Quann
Jack Quann

08.15 27 May 2020


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Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary has hit out at Government plans to quarantine travellers coming into Ireland for 14 days.  

He told Newstalk Breakfast: "Ireland is introducing far more restrictive travel restrictions at a time when the rest of Europe is opening up."

He said this is "despite the fact that Ireland has performed better than most of the rest of Europe in tacking and reversing the impact of COVID-19.

"We now have an ineffective quarantine regime where people coming into this country don't quarantine - in actual fact, all we do is we take their names and addresses at the airport, we then let them lose into the buses and the taxis and into the community before they arrive at their quarantine address.

"This isn't quarantine - it is completely ineffective and it has no medical or health benefits".

Asked if this makes the case for a stronger regime, he said: "I think the point is not so much whether we have a quarantine in Ireland or not, but you've got to ask the question: why is Ireland - having performed so well, the Government  and the people have performed so well in reversing the impact of COVID-19  - now locking down further at a time when Government's in Italy, in Spain, in Portugal have all announced they're opening up their countries.

"They're removing all of the travel restrictions, including quarantines from either the middle of June or the 1st of July".

He said Ryanair will resume flights to continental Europe from July "without any quarantine restrictions."

"And we have to ask why is it, then, when these families are coming back [Chief Medical Officer] Tony Holohan and the Government wants them to  quarantine for two weeks - which has no effect whatsoever".

Mr O'Leary said: "Ireland has performed better than almost all of those other countries... it's not that Ireland is one of the most restrictive, it is the most stringent lockdown measures.

"It's great news - and I think it's a credit to the Government and the health agencies - on Monday we had no deaths from COVID-19.

"Now it's time - as it is in these other countries... we are doing better than Spain and Italy - we are in many respects further ahead of the curve because we've been so successful, and then why are we locking down further when the rest of these countries are opening up?"

"The Government in early May announced a recovery programme with three week intervals: it's time to bring those intervals forward to two weekly intervals."

He also said there needs to be the introduction of more mandatory face masks.

"We're calling for three simple measures at the end of this week: remove the ineffective quarantine, mandate wearing face masks in public - which would allow us to go from two metre separation to one metre  separation quite effectively - and much more importantly open up the hairdressers.

"It's ridiculous you've to wait until the end of July to go and get your hair done when actually by wearing face masks - as they're doing in Italy and Spain - the hairdressers are open, and they should be re-open in Ireland as well".

Michael O'Leary hits out at Government's 'ineffective' quarantine regime

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On bringing the lifting of restrictions forward, he said: "It is time we began to bring forward these restrictions because we are overly conservative.

"There is no reason for Ireland being the most locked down country in the western world when we've been one of the best performers in dealing with COVID."

"We are asking the Government please explain why in Germany you've got one metre separation, why has Spain and Italy have removed all travel restrictions from the middle of June or the 1st of July, and yet in Ireland last weekend we decided to double down and impose ridiculously ineffective quarantines on people arriving in from countries that have performed well: Spain, Italy and Greece, but we allow the Brtis in without any restrictions - and they performed worse".

And Mr O'Leary added that Ryanair will be announcing Irish redundancies later this week.

He said: "It's numbers in hundreds, I hope, rather than thousands."

"Across the company though, it's going to be about 3,000 pilots and cabin crew.

"We've already lost 250 colleagues here from our Dublin, Madrid and Polish offices.

"These are very painful decisions, but if we don't take them we won't survive".

Under new regulations unveiled earlier this month, people who do not fill in a locator form indicating where they will be self-isolating may face a six-month prison term or a fine of up to €2,500.

The regulations also cover situations where people offer false or misleading information, or if someone fails to update their details if they change address within the two weeks of isolation.

The Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan has previously said they are also looking at making two weeks of self-isolation mandatory for those entering the country.

However more needs to be done before it can be brought in.


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