The government will decide next week whether to end quarantine requirements for travelers entering the country from the rest of the European Union for significant work or family reasons.
Ireland has agreed with other EU countries to support an agreement that contains a broad list of people who are exempt from quarantine requirements, including anyone traveling within the bloc for “compelling family or business reasons” on Tuesday.
The list is part of an EU agreement brokered to align travel rules and maintain free movement across the bloc. However, it is up to each Member State to decide whether to adopt them or not.
“The government has agreed in principle to accept the recommendations, but the modalities for this will be determined in the next week,” the Minister for European Affairs, Thomas Byrne, told the Irish Times, which still has to be classified as an essential travel discussion “.
Ireland has one of the highest percentages of citizens living outside a developed country’s state, but has maintained a blanket two-week quarantine requirement for incoming travel during the pandemic aside from a green list of countries – a stricter policy than most EU countries.
When the deal was announced, EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders said it was important “to ensure that families and loved ones can visit each other”.
“For the millions of citizens with an important reason to travel, be it for important family reasons such as a funeral or a sick relative, but also for cross-border family members who travel regularly or for those who travel to work. .. Today’s agreement is a welcome improvement in what is now a precarious situation. In these cases, no quarantine would be used, ”said Reynders.
However, he noted that “today’s agreement is only the first step and it is now crucial for member states to implement today’s agreement.”
Traffic light system
Under the agreement, starting next week, Ireland, along with the rest of the bloc, will follow a color-coded risk map created by the European Center for Disease Control (ECDC), which classifies regions across Europe as green, orange or red.
All people traveling from green regions are exempt from travel restrictions such as quarantine or test requirements. However, the government has yet to decide what requirements will be set for travelers from the orange and red regions.
Due to the recurrence of Covid-19 infections across the continent, currently only one region in Italy, parts of the Baltic and Scandinavian countries, parts of Bulgaria and most of eastern Germany is considered green.
Regions are classified as green if they have a Covid-19 infection rate of less than 25 per 100,000 people over a period of two weeks, with less than 4 percent of the tests being positive. In addition, regions are classified as orange; or red if the infections are more than 150 per 100,000 people.
Any region with more than 50 cases per 100,000 people is also classified as red if more than 4 percent of the tests are positive.
Northern Ireland, a large part of Northern England, large parts of France, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands and almost all of the Czech Republic are currently “red” on the ECDC map.
The European Commission had originally proposed removing all quarantine requirements across the bloc and replacing them with mandatory tests for travelers from red areas and recommended tests for travelers from orange areas – a change favored by the aviation industry.
However, member states refused to do so, choosing instead to choose their own restrictions and proceeding with quarantines, the length of which varies from country to country, arguing that each state has different circumstances such as testing capacity.
The powers over border and health issues are in the hands of national governments. This means that while the European Commission can give advice and try to mediate coordination, it is ultimately up to the Member States to determine their own policies in these areas.
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