Taoiseach Micheal Martin has set out Ireland’s plans for re-opening the country over the summer – including the adoption of a COVID-19 certificate so that people can travel abroad freely.
He told the country via a televised address: “If we continue to mind each other, if we continue to make the right choices, the end of this is within our grasp.”
The Taoiseach also said the sense of “hope, excitement and relief” is palpable as he set out the roadmap.
He added: “We are almost back to a point where we can just enjoy the ordinary, extraordinary moments in our lives. The sense of hope, excitement and relief is palpable.
“But as we watch what is happening across the globe, we, of course, know that we must remain vigilant against this terrible virus. We know there have been many twists and turns on this journey.
“I have talked many times about the strength that is found in solidarity and how managing the pandemic must be a collective effort.
“This coming month could be the most important test of that spirit that we have faced since this ordeal began.”
Ireland’s roadmap to freedom
- 2 June – hotels, B&Bs, guesthouses and self-catered accommodation will reopen
- 7 June – outdoor hospitality such as pubs and restaurants will return, as will gyms and cinemas, while the number of people allowed to gather at outdoor events will be 100 or up to 200 in larger venues
- 11 June – Proposed trial events at the Leinster v Dragons rugby match at the RDS, Shamrock Rovers v Finn Harps, and Cork City v Cabinteely could all take place
- 5 July – indoor dining at restaurants and pubs will be allowed, and up to 50 guests will be able to attend weddings
- 19 July – Ireland will adopt a Covid-19 certificate to help citizens move more freely across the EU, and also apply broadly the same approach to arrivals from the US and Britain
- 5 August – indoor events can have 100 people attending, with 200 attending in larger venues. Also, the 50% capacity restrictions on public transport will be lifted
Ireland also hopes to permit a staggered return of employees to their offices from August, with the advice to continue to work from home unless necessary until then.
Ministers will set out new fiscal support next week to help pubs and restaurants that do not serve food and the live events sector, Mr Martin said.
Under the EU certification scheme:
- People who are vaccinated, have had a negative test, or have recovered from the virus can travel freely around the bloc
- Ireland’s plan will require children aged between seven and 18 to have a negative test before arriving in Ireland, regardless of departure point
- Passengers from outside the European bloc can also travel freely with valid proof of vaccination as long as the countries they arrive from are not high risk
- People coming from outside the EU who have not been vaccinated must have a negative test and self-quarantine until a second test after their arrival
- The approach to travel outside the EEA (European Economic Area) will apply to Britain and the US, big tourism markets for Ireland
However, Ireland will not restore the common travel area with Britain because of concerns over the Covid-19 variant first identified in India. The more transmissible variant accounts for 6-7% of cases in Ireland but up to three-quarters of cases in the UK.
People can still enter the UK from Ireland without restrictions.
Tanaiste Leo Varadkar said: “The advice that we have – and we’re accepting this advice from Nphet – is that there are real concerns about the prevalence of the Indian variant in Britain.
“It’s now the dominant variant in Britain – over 50% of cases appear to be this B1617 variant.
“That’s something we’re concerned about, and, for that reason, we’re not in a position to restore the Common Travel Area just yet.”
Niall Gibbons, Chief Executive of Tourism Ireland, said: “Today’s announcement is an extremely welcome and important step on the road to recovery for our industry in Ireland and
our trade partners overseas. This will help protect thousands of jobs and livelihoods across the Irish tourism industry. For the first time in many months, we can look to the future with optimism.
“We know from our research that there is significant pent-up demand among travellers in our overseas markets to return to the island of Ireland as soon as possible. However, we also know that there will be significant competition in the marketplace; every destination across the globe has experienced the impact of COVID-19 and will be seeking their share of the recovery. Our kick-start campaign will punch through the noise and create an immediate desire to visit. “
“Tourism Ireland know and understand how difficult the last year has been for our travel trade partners overseas. We very much value the business they generate for the island of Ireland and look forward to working with them to rebuild it in the months and years ahead. We are very appreciative for their ongoing support for Tourism Ireland and the tourism industry on the island of Ireland.”
“Everyone at Tourism Ireland looks forward to getting back in full swing, to promote the island of Ireland as a safe, welcoming and ‘must-see’ destination across the world. Over the coming months, we will be working flat out, with all of our partners, to restore as much business as possible. Our message is that we can’t wait to roll out the green carpet and welcome back our overseas visitors.”
Tourism Ireland have also announced that there are no longer restrictions on the reason of travel to Northern Ireland from within the Common Travel Area, exemptions have been removed and holiday visitors will no longer be required to self-isolate on arrival. Therefore, holidaymakers and visitors will now be able to proceed with planned breaks to Northern Ireland.