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latest data Air travel into Ireland this Christmas to drop by 90pc, Government says


Stock image: Flight

Stock image: Flight

Stock image: Flight

Initial indications are that international air travel home to Ireland this Christmas will be “90pc down” on last year, a Government spokeswoman has said.

Ferry passenger traffic into Ireland is also shaping up to be 60pc down on 2019 levels, said Liz Canavan, assistant secretary general at the Department of the Taoiseach.

“Most people who would normally travel aren’t coming home for Christmas,” she told a media briefing on Covid-19.

“This is something that we should all be grateful for.”

She emphasised that the Government was “asking as many people who can to skip a visit this year and to come next year instead”.

But she said it was recognised that many would still have a reason to travel, with tens of thousands expected to make the journey to see family and relatives.

To disappointed people who are staying away, Ms Canavan said: “Hopefully next year we can welcome everyone home with open arms.”

She admitted it felt strange to be urging Irish people not to make an effort to be with their families at this time of year.

“It goes against everything we have always done and all that we take for granted.”

To make such a request was something that could never have been imagined before the onslaught of the virus, she added.

Meanwhile those at home are also reminded that this Christmas is not a time for a lot of socialising.

“The main goal is to keep transmission low, so we can sustain this for the Christmas period, and beyond. And how we do this is primarily and very simply by keeping our contact numbers low,” she said.

“There is a direct correlation between the number of contacts people have and the rate of transmission of the disease.

“That's why we keep saying that every contact counts. So just because you can move around and do more things, doesn't mean you have to do that. Socialising is discretionary. So use your discretion.”

People should maintain virtual, rather than actual, interaction with others, she said.

“We’re all sick of Zoom meetings and quizzes and rehearsals and book clubs, but they are still a way to connect, if you have to make choices.

“Most of all, think about your social circle. The chances are it’s bigger and more populated than you think. Let's try and keep this as small as possible, even though more interaction is now permissible. Don't see that as a target.”

People should identify their priorities for the Christmas celebration and try to stick to them by minimising meeting people.

“I know it's not a very Christmassy message. But if everyone does that, it will see us through to the end of this year, and allow us to start off a better year in better shape, retaining those freedoms and economic activity.”

The good news was that garda checks on premises had found a high level of compliance with the new hospitality relaxations, while Fáilte Ireland spot checks found no incidents at all of non-compliance by businesses.

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Online Editors