July 6, 2020 / 5:57 PM / a month ago

Ireland lays out criteria for potential easing of travel restrictions

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Ireland will judge whether to ease quarantine restrictions on people traveling from abroad from July 20 on the amount of new COVID-19 cases, the trend and the quality of testing and tracing in qualifying countries, the government said on Monday.

Ireland, which has been more cautious than much of Europe on the reopening of its economy and air travel, has advised its citizens against non-essential travel since March and requires anyone arriving in the country to self-isolate for 14 days.

The outgoing government had promised to produce by July 9 a “green list” of exempt countries with similar or lower COVID-19 risk to Ireland, but the new administration delayed that date amid increased warnings from public health officials.

“We know we are still dealing with a very internationally volatile situation, as witnessed in Spain, as witnessed in the UK and that is informing our view as second waves are emerging,” Prime Minister Micheál Martin told a news conference

“On July 20, we’ll be in a position to say whether any country or whether a number of countries make the green list ... At the moment there would be a number of countries in that position but that can change.”

The criteria will be three-fold: new cases over the past 14 days per 100,000 inhabitants, currently three in Ireland, if the trend suggests the virus is on the rise or suppressed elsewhere and whether the quality of testing, surveillance and tracing means Ireland is comparing like with like with other countries.

The government will also tighten regulations that require incoming travelers to provide the address at which they will self-isolate, moving to an electronic system capturing passenger data directly from airlines and ferry operators.

With 4,000 daily passengers now arriving in Dublin airport compared to 1,200 a week ago, call back and symptom checking services will also be ramped up, Martin added.

Reporting by Padraic Halpin; Editing by Giles Elgood

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