Róisín Shortall TD, co-leader of the Social Democrats, has expressed surprise that there are no measures contained in the Government’s announcement on Phase 4 to address the fact that 90% of people travelling into Ireland are from non-green list countries.

Deputy Shortall said:

“This worrying figure will almost certainly rise now that five countries have been removed from the green list today. Despite the Minister for Health floating the unworkable idea of random testing of visitors over the weekend, there was no mention this evening of any plan to put adequate controls in place at our ports and airports.

“The Minister vaguely alluded to an increased public health presence at our airports but what exactly does this mean? His reference to the passenger locator form being moved online was supposed to happen weeks ago and is certainly not a new initiative.

“So far, the tracing of passengers arriving here has been a shambles, with only 7% receiving calls and half of these not being answered. Three separate Government departments continue to play a bizarre game of ‘pass the parcel’ over who should have responsibility for the follow-up system.

“Members of the Oireachtas Covid Committee today received a letter from a group of eminent scientists, who warned there was a narrow window of opportunity to reduce infections before our schools and colleges reopen, both in this State and in Northern Ireland. They are calling for an effective system of testing and isolation for incoming travellers.

“We must be guided by what our medical experts are telling us and I will be asking this group to come back with specific solutions for a workable testing programme.

“Travel continues to be this Government’s main weakness in its response to the Covid-19 crisis.”

August 4, 2020

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