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good news International holidays could return in the summer with introduction of EU-wide travel certificate

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Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney. Photo: Julien Behal

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney. Photo: Julien Behal

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney. Photo: Julien Behal

International travel, including foreign holidays, could be on the cards later this summer, Coalition ministers have signalled.

The introduction of the new EU-wide digital green certificates from June is expected to pave the way for the reintroduction of travel within the 27-member bloc. Ministers believe this could allow people in Ireland who are vaccinated to take foreign holidays in other EU countries before the end of the summer provided the public health situation remains stable and the vaccination roll-out is not disrupted.

While Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Tánaiste Leo Varadkar both outlined their views yesterday that June is too early for international travel to resume, Mr Varadkar told his Fine Gael party last night that he could see so-called ‘vaccine passports’ being used for international travel.

Separately, Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney said yesterday that he foresees a change in the current advice against all non-essential travel during the summer months.

“Certainly, at some stage over the next number of months, I think you will see the benefit of the potential for international travel again, working through that green passport system,” he said.

Last night, Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien, whose constituency is home to Dublin Airport, sais he was in favour of allowing international travel to resume once the new EU system is in place.

“It needs to be agreed by the EU – as far as I am concerned that is our ticket back to foreign travel and rebooting our aviation sector,” he said.

“When we can start flying again in any real numbers is dependent on that being done and the vaccination programme and testing being up to speed. If that is done by mid-summer then that should follow. I want it to happen, it has to happen and obviously it will all be done safely,” said Mr O’Brien.

European Affairs Minister Thomas Byrne, who has been working closely on the green certificates at an EU level, said: “It is absolutely understandable that people want to travel.

“At the moment, conditions don’t allow it but with the projected vaccination roll-out that we have over the next few months I think it is entirely reasonable that people would be thinking about travel at the end of the summer and into the autumn.

“At some point we have to open up the country again when it’s safe, particularly with countries where there is a high level of vaccination and low level of case numbers, but clearly no one has made that call now.”

The new EU green cert is expected to be in place by the beginning of June and must be in operation by member states within six weeks. By law, citizens will be able to request their certificate which will be a barcode on their phone or a printout showing whether they have been vaccinated, have had a negative test or have recovered from Covid.

This would permit them to travel to other member states who adopted the new system.

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Privately, coalition ministers are anxious to see the resumption of foreign travel in the coming months, citing pressure from constituents who are inquiring about whether they can or should reschedule foreign holidays they postponed last summer, as well the needs of businesses involved in international trade.

“It’s going to be very hard to hold people back,” a Fianna Fáil minister said. “Holiday home owners, are you going to be saying you can’t go to your own house?”

A Fine Gael minister said: “If we agree to the pan-European system that allows the freedom to travel, I think if we get to mid-summer and 80pc have had their first dose, we should be in a position to allow people to travel again.”

The issue was raised at the Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting last night with Clare TD Joe Carey, Senator Jerry Buttimer and MEP Deirdre Clune calling for the Government to embrace the certificates.

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