Ireland’s decision to maintain its 14-day quarantine restriction on travellers from Britain has been slammed by Europe’s largest carrier Ryanair.
The Irish government says it has opted to retain the restriction because of concerns about the Covid-19 variant first identified in India.
However, referring to the Indian variant as a “scariant”, Ryanair said it makes no sense to keep the border with Northern Ireland open while continuing to impose restrictions on people travelling by air or ferry.
In a statement, following the announcement by Irish transport minister Eamonn Ryan, the budget carrier said:
“Today’s announcement shows that Minister Ryan has yet again mismanaged the transport situation.
“Minister Ryan should now explain what “science” or “medical advice” allows UK citizens to drive across the Northern Ireland border with no restrictions, yet if they travel to Ireland by ferry or plane, they have to quarantine for 14 days.
“This is yet another example of minister Ryan’s incompetence and failure in the management of transport, and the safe reopening of Ireland, when all of our vaccines are successful against the Indian scariant.”
Ryanair called for all travel restrictions within the UK Common Travel Area (CTA) to be lifted on June 1.
It added: “This Indian “scariant” is a bogus excuse when all the evidence confirms that the Covid vaccines are effective against the Indian variant/scariant.”
The Republic of Ireland’s Tanaiste (deputy prime minister) Leo Varadkar told Irish broadcaster RTE that Ireland was “not in a position” to restore the CTA with Britain, but confirmed that his country would reopen its borders for holidaymakers from the EU.
Speaking on RTE’s Morning Ireland, Mr Varadkar said the lifting of restrictions will see a “phased return” to international travel but warned that it will not be like it was before the pandemic as there will be requirements around vaccines and testing.
The Irish government had been expected to lift its restrictions for those arriving from Britain but the move is being delayed after advice from National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet).
RTE also reported that the minister for transport Eamon Ryan indicated that mandatory hotel quarantine will continue to be used beyond July 19, for those entering the country without having been vaccinated or possessing a negative PCR test.
However, France, Belgium and Luxembourg are expected to be removed from the quarantine list shortly.
Ryan said Ireland would adopt the EU Digital Covid Certificate system, which will allow people to travel if they are fully vaccinated, have a negative PCR test, or can show they have recently recovered from Covid-19.
France, Germany and Austria have also recently imposed travel restrictions on Brits because of concerns over the variant.
All Britons currently arriving from the UK mainland are required to quarantine for 14 days on arrival in Ireland even though the two countries are part of the Common Travel area.