Plan on easing of measures in June, July due next week

The Taoiseach said the EU digital certificate provides a framework for a return to travel

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said there will be a comprehensive statement from Government next week on the easing of Covid-19 restrictions over June and July, and how that will affect travel, aviation, entertainment, and sport.

He told his parliamentary party that there is a necessity to restore travel and aviation, adding there is what he termed "substantive work" on the evaluation of mandatory hotel quarantine.

Mr Martin said the European Union digital certificate provides a framework for the return of travel.

"We are in a different space with vaccination and as a small open economy aviation is really important.

"We must ensure connectivity for tourism, the economy and future growth," he said.

Commenting on the recent announcement by Aer Lingus that it is closing its cabin crew base at Shannon Airport, Mr Martin said the Government is committed to regional connectivity and to the airport.

He said the Government will engage with the airlines and airports as this is "crucial to tourism and economic growth of all regions in the country".

On vaccines, he said the announcement by Pfizer that it is to manufacture vaccine components in Ireland was a substantive investment and showed confidence in Ireland's economy.

He added that around 280k vaccines were distributed in Ireland over the past week and should hit one million vaccines in the month of May.


Plan for international travel before end of month, says Tánaiste

Earlier, the Tánaiste had told his parliamentary party that a plan for the return to international travel should reach Cabinet before the end of this month.

In a letter, Leo Varadkar said: "We should have a plan for a return to international travel at Cabinet before the end of May, as I indicated to you several weeks ago.

"We will also need to incentivise the return of airlines to our skies."

He added: "We have and have had the strictest travel rules in the EU for quite some time. We also have one of the lowest death rates of Covid.

"They are not unconnected but the restrictions have not been without consequences either: being unable to see family; job losses in tourism and aviation; the loss of business and investment."

Leo Varadkar said an incentive package is needed to get airlines back (File photo, PA Images)

Mr Varadkar had earlier told the Oireachtas Committee on Enterprise, Trade and Employment that the Government will publish two memos next week - one on international travel and one to deal with live events and trial pilot events in June and July, such as sporting, artistic, musical, and cultural events.

Ireland will need a "very big and attractive incentive package" to get airlines back, he said, but passengers must be allowed to fly again.

He added: "We are just not at that point, for public health reasons."

Mr Varadkar said he wants to repeal the "draconian legislation" limiting people's movements as soon as it is right to do so, but "unfortunately it is still necessary", and that it is why it will be extended, he added.

Meanwhile EU member states have agreed to allow fully-vaccinated passengers from outside the EU to enter the bloc this summer for holiday purposes.

It follows a meeting of European Union ambassadors in Brussels this morning.



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