Christmas flights home to Ireland could be cancelled as Covid-19 travel risk is 'simply too high'

Christmas flights home to Ireland could be cancelled as Covid-19 travel risk is 'simply too high'

PEOPLE hoping to fly home to Ireland for Christmas this year may be unable to due to Covid-19 concerns.

Ireland's Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan has warned that the travel risks involved might be "simply too high".

Speaking at a press conference at the Department of Health on Tuesday, Dr Holohan stressed that Covid-19 risks involved with international travel were "very substantial," and the virus would be difficult to effectively suppress if thousands of people were passing through airports at any one time.

"Our advice is that the risk of non-essential travel outside this country is simply too high at this moment," he said.

Ireland is currently under Level Five restrictions, where non-essential travel is prohibited.

The restrictions are due to stay in place until December 1, when the country is due to go back to Level Three.

When asked about people travelling to Ireland for Christmas, Holohan said that his team hadn't made any specific considerations yet.

The news comes amid calls for a pre-departure Covid-19 rapid-testing scheme, that would allow people to travel providing their test results come back negative.

Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) will today raise the issue of Christmas homecomings at the Oireachtas Transport Committee, where a pre-departure testing system will be discussed.

The DAA says the system could even be a "safer alternative" to the restrictions currently in place.

"We want to welcome our loved ones safely and allow those living here who have not seen families overseas to be reunited," the DAA said in a statement.

Ireland has agreed to align with the new EU 'traffic light' system for international travel. The 'green list' will no longer be used, and instead travel between countries will be decided based upon statistics from the European Centre  for Disease Prevention.

Each country will be assigned a colour (green, yellow or red), based on the level of Covid-19 risk in each area.