Leo Varadkar: “If we’re serious about living with the virus, that means allowing more air travel” 2 weeks ago

Leo Varadkar: “If we’re serious about living with the virus, that means allowing more air travel”

“We do have very strict rules, probably only Iceland and Hungary have rules stricter than us in the European Union.”

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said that the government is considering a number of options that would open Ireland up to more international travel than is currently permitted.

Currently, the government continues to advise against all non-essential travel to and from Ireland. Passengers arriving into the country are advised to restrict their movements for 14 days, while countries where it is safer to visit are identified on a ‘green list’ which is reviewed every two weeks.

Speaking on Morning Ireland on RTÉ Radio One on Wednesday, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said that a greater degree of international air travel will have to be allowed if Ireland is “serious about living with the virus”.

“I think we do have to acknowledge that international travel does come with risks, the virus was brought into the country as a consequence of international travel,” Varadkar said.

“But once a virus is established in a country, it doesn’t contribute to it very much.

“When you look at your Covid app on your phone, you’ll see that only about 2% of cases are linked to travel abroad.

“We do have very strict rules, probably only Iceland and Hungary have rules stricter than us in the European Union.”

Asked by host Bryan Dobson if the rules are “too strict”, Varadkar suggested that the government is considering a couple of alternative options that would increase the amount of air travel permitted.

“I think if we’re going to live with the virus and if we’re serious about living with the virus, that means allowing more air travel,” Varadkar added.

“It means allowing necessary business travel, sports teams to travel, maybe in some cases even people visiting relatives and friends.

“And two things we would consider – and by consider, I only mean consider – in the context of the new plan, is the possibility of rapid testing, and we see that being tried out in Heathrow, test results within a few minutes or 30 minutes. It doesn’t eliminate risk but does reduce it.

"Or also opting into an initiative being led by the European Commission, by the European Health Commission, based on the work being done by the ECDC (European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control)… which would have a different view on travel to NPHET, and the EASA (European Aviation Safety Authority) and that would have a European-wide map that would be updated every week with green, amber and red zones and that’s something we could opt into.”

Varadkar also revealed on Morning Ireland that the new roadmap for living with Covid-19 in Ireland would be delivered next week.