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No go Widespread Christmas travel to Ireland would be ‘recipe for disaster’

“I really don’t think travel should be on the agenda this Christmas,” Dr Scally told RTE Radio One’s This Week programme.

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Dr Gabriel Scally (Brian Lawless/PA)

Dr Gabriel Scally (Brian Lawless/PA)

PA

Dr Gabriel Scally (Brian Lawless/PA)

Infection risks associated with the widespread movement of people back to Ireland for Christmas would be a recipe for disaster, a leading epidemiologist has warned.

Dr Gabriel Scally said he agreed with Tanaiste Leo Varadkar’s assessment that it was too early for people to consider booking flights home for the festive period.

The medic, who is president of epidemiology and public health at the Royal Society of Medicine, said some travellers who did return would not experience “much of a Christmas” due to the need to comply with self-isolation restrictions depending on where they had arrived from.

“I really don’t think travel should be on the agenda this Christmas,” he told RTE Radio One’s This Week programme.

“And I hope people stick to that because we know this virus travels very well and having people flowing in and out of countries and through airports and all the other travel that involves is a recipe for disaster.”

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People wearing protective face masks at Terminal 2 in Dublin Airport as a requirement for people arriving in Ireland (Brian Lawless/PA)

People wearing protective face masks at Terminal 2 in Dublin Airport as a requirement for people arriving in Ireland (Brian Lawless/PA)

People wearing protective face masks at Terminal 2 in Dublin Airport as a requirement for people arriving in Ireland (Brian Lawless/PA)

Last week Mr Varadkar warned people not to book flights home to Ireland for Christmas.

He told the Dail that it is “too soon” to make travel arrangements.

“We’re not in a position at this point to advise people that it’s safe to come home for Christmas and I know that’s a tough message,” he said.

Last week the Government said that people travelling to Ireland from “red” listed regions will no longer have to restrict their movements once they receive a negative Covid-19 test after arrival. The test must be taken five days after they return to return.

Those new travel rules, which are due to come into effect from midnight on November 29, had raised hopes for many families that a Christmas reunion would be possible.

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Leo Varadkar has said it is too early for people to consider booking flights home to Ireland at Christmas (Niall Carson/PA)

Leo Varadkar has said it is too early for people to consider booking flights home to Ireland at Christmas (Niall Carson/PA)

PA

Leo Varadkar has said it is too early for people to consider booking flights home to Ireland at Christmas (Niall Carson/PA)

Last year, around 1.2 million people travelled through Dublin Airport during the Christmas period.

The Government has recently given the green light to allow Covid-19 testing for passengers travelling through DAA airports in Dublin and Cork.

Passengers will be able to get a test before and after their flight at private testing facilities. Tests are expected to cost between €100 and €200.

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