Hundreds of thousands of people are still flying to Ireland from Covid-19 hotspots as the country struggles to stop the spread of the disease.
New figures have shown that over 191,000 people flew here from countries like the United States, Italy, Spain, Greece and Portugal in a four-week period from September 7th to October 4th.
Almost 19,000 landed at Dublin Airport from Italy, 15,000 from Spain, almost 10,000 from Portugal, over 34,000 from Great Britain and over 4,000 from the USA.
Thousands more flew into the terminals of Cork and Shannon during the same period.
This means that despite rising cases, nearly 7,000 people are flying into the country every day, while European countries face further lockdowns if they try to suppress a second wave.
The numbers were passed on by Transport Secretary Eamon Ryan to Social Democrats Co-Chair Roisin Shortall in response to a parliamentary question.
Speaking to Irish Spiegel, Ms. Shortall said the government needed to act urgently.
She said: “As Ireland grapples with breaking the circuit breaker, nearly 50,000 people fly into the country every week from abroad.
“It seems that there is a high likelihood that imported cases will spread across the community and yet we don’t have a system to monitor and enforce restrictions on movement policies.
“Other European countries, for example Germany, require tests for everyone who enters the country, but there is no such process here.
“With people facing a long winter with Covid restrictions, the government urgently needs to control overseas travel to ensure public health is not at risk.”
As of Monday, the Foreign Office announced that there are no countries on the Green List for travel to Ireland.
And the government is still advising against all non-essential travel.
But that hasn’t stopped people from leaving Ireland in droves for sunny countries.
Figures show that more than 172,000 people left Ireland in one month. The most popular destinations included France, Greece and Spain.
Health Minister Stephen Donnelly has announced that Ireland will sign the European Union’s traffic light system for travel this week.
People traveling to or from green category countries do not need to restrict their movements or isolate themselves.
For amber and red countries, travelers are expected to need to self-isolate.
But Mr Donnelly said airport testing will not be rolled out at this point due to current capacity levels, but it will happen and plans are being made.
However, Sinn Fein’s transport spokesman Darren O’Rourke said Ireland could not fully participate in the new travel approach if tests are not carried out.
He said: “Due to government inaction, we are now likely to miss out on full participation in the EU approach as the government has not installed test functions at our airports.
“These numbers underline the importance of traveling from some countries with very high Covid infection rates.
“It only takes one infected arrival from a high-risk country to put an entire community at risk if it is not quarantined.”
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