Ireland announces return of foreign travel as restrictions ease in time for summerSasha Brady

Ireland is gradually emerging from one of the strictest lockdowns in the world, with the government approving plans on Friday for the return of foreign travel in July, as well as a wider reopening of the hospitality sector.

Ireland’s taoiseach (prime minister) Micheál Martin today approved plans to resume non-essential international travel from July 19. Under the recommendation of the EU, Ireland will participate in the union’s COVID travel certificate system, which shows the holder’s proof of vaccination, recovery from COVID-19, or negative test results, and allows them to travel across the EU without COVID restrictions. At a government press conference on Friday, Mr Martin stressed the need to “get this right” and ensure travel resumes in a “safe and sustainable way.”

Ireland’s transport minister Eamon Ryan said travel between Ireland and the US and UK will also resume on July 19. While the EU travel certificate does not apply to the US or the UK, Mr Ryan told national broadcaster RTE that a “similar broad approach” will be taken. More details are expected soon, though it’s likely there will be additional restrictions in place for travel with the UK due to the prevalence of B.1.617.2, a more transmissible COVID-19 variant first detected in India.

Ireland’s pubs will reopen in July for indoor services after more than a year of closures ©Popa Ioana Mirela/Shutterstock

Despite early concerns about Ireland’s vaccine rollout, Ireland’s health minister Stephen Donnelly said 50% of the adult population will have received at least one dose of the vaccine by the end of this week. Ireland has been under rolling nationwide lockdowns since March 2020, operating under the strictest level of restrictions from last December to this May with measures that shut down hospitality and retail, banned indoor household mixing, and prohibited people traveling more than 5km from their homes.

Unmissable day trips from Ireland’s liveliest cities

But as the vaccine rollout gathers speed, restrictions have begun to ease. Domestic travel is now permitted and hotels will open on June 2. Restaurants and bars can currently only offer takeout or delivery services, but outdoor dining will resume from June 7, and indoor hospitality for pubs and restaurants will be permitted from July 5.

Museums, galleries and cultural attractions opened in mid-May with social distancing and face mask guidelines in place. Theaters are permitted to follow in June, and pilot outdoor events will be trialed in Dublin’s Phoenix Park and Iveagh Gardens later this summer to facilitate the return of festivals and live music gigs. Plans are also in place to allow fans to attend sporting events from June.

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