June 1, 2020
Sinn Féin to question if traffic light system for safe Covid travel can be introduced here – Darren O’Rourke TD

Sinn Féin TD for Meath East Darren O’Rourke will tomorrow question witnesses at the Special Covid Committee tomorrow as to whether a traffic light system for travel can be introduced here as a means of safely opening up foreign travel.

Deputy O’Rourke and his colleague Sinn Féin Finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty, will also question why the Public Health Passenger Locator Form was only made mandatory last week and how long the 14-day quarantine procedure will be in place. They say thousands of people are unsure if it is safe to plan for summer holidays abroad, given recent conflicting public messages, and want guidance and reassurance.

Speaking ahead of the Committee, Teachta O’Rourke said;

“The government’s actions to date on the transport aspect of the Covid-19 crisis have left a lot to be desired.

“When people were asking back in March why people were still permitted to fly into Ireland from Covid hotspots with zero checks, nothing was done.

“The Public Health Passenger Locator Form was only made mandatory last week, after the government were embarrassed into doing it following media reports of people simply ignoring the administrative exercise.

“Making the form mandatory now, three months after the virus arrived onto our island, is a bit like closing the stable door after the horse has bolted.

“We’ll be asking whether the witnesses whether the total absence of travel restrictions early on, and the voluntary nature of the Public Health Passenger Locator Form throughout the pandemic hindered Ireland’s fight against Covid-19?

“As the number of Covid cases recedes, other countries are now changing their approach to foreign travel, and so we will be asking how long the 14-day quarantine procedure will be in place here. With conflicting messages in recent days from airline and public health officials, thousands of people are unsure if it is safe to plan for summer holidays abroad and want guidance and reassurance.

“On this point, we will ask the witnesses if they will examine whether a traffic light system for travel could be introduced here, with countries and regions designated green, orange or red depending on the severity of Covid-19 in a particular area.

“Those on the green list would be permitted for travel. Extra checks and restrictions would be in place for people travelling to and from countries on the orange list. While travel to and from areas on the red list, where Covid-19 remains out of control, would come with the most restrictions.

“Furthermore, as part of our line of questioning in tomorrow’s committee meeting, we will be seeking assurance that such an approach as the above could be adopted on a north-south basis to stay in line with the advice of the CMO from the beginning of the pandemic that we need an all-island approach to ensuring public safety in the battle against Covid-19.

“It is imperative we protect the progress made against Covid-19 here, but we also need to plan a safe and realistic way forward living alongside Covid-19.”

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