Published on October 25th, 2020 | by Mark Dwyer0
Traffic Light Travel System to be Introduced from 8th November
The government have agreed to implement the European Union Traffic Light system for travel following a decision at Cabinet earlier this week. The system will come into force on 8th November and will allow Covid-19 testing at airports to reduce or eliminate the need for travel restrictions on arrival at destination. Travellers from countries deemed to be “green” will have no restriction on entry while those deemed to be “amber” may reduce or eliminate restrictions with a test for Covid-19. Travellers from “red” countries will have to continue to restrict their movements on arrival at their destination.
Covid-19 rates have been soaring across Europe and most countries now fall within the “red” criteria. However, introducing the system now may allow for a gradual ramp up as rates reduce in future.
The rating of each country is to be compiled by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) in Stockholm. It will publish a weekly map of the EU on its website www.ecdc.europa.eu/en on Fridays showing the different colour-coded categories of participating countries. Participation among the EU 27 and its associated states, including Norway and Iceland, would be up to individual countries.
Speaking in the Dáil, Minister of State at the Department of Transport Hildegarde Naughton said: “From midnight tonight, there will be no restrictions for travellers from a green list country travelling to Ireland. Many countries across Europe, including us, are on a red list. For orange and red list countries, we are asking people to restrict their movements for 14 days, as is currently the case for all travellers. For orange list countries, there will be an exemption from restricting movements if the person carries out a validated pre-departure test. The requirement for red list countries remains as it is at the moment and people will have to restrict their movements.”
A cross-departmental Technical Group has been established to oversee the implementation of the Traffic Light system. They will meet every two weeks and assess the types of testing that can be carried out. “As we know, the polymerase chain reaction, PCR, test is the gold standard. There is also work ongoing on other potential types of testing that could become available or be validated in the future. We want to leave that open in order that we could potentially use that for pre-departure tests.” Deputy Naughton went on to say.
The colour coding system is categorised as follows:
Red: High risk, more than 50 cases per 100,000 people with 4% test positivity, or more than 150 cases per 100,000 with less than 4% test positivity
Orange: Medium risk, more than 25 cases per 100,000 people with 4% test positivity, or between 25 and 150 cases per 100,000 with less than 4% test positivity
Green: Low risk, less than 25 cases per 100,000 people with less than 4% test positivity
Following agreement at European level, the European Commission said: “We welcome this agreement to bring more order to a currently confusing situation. The coming together of member states sends a strong signal to citizens and is a clear example of the EU acting where it absolutely should. We have learned our lessons: we will not surmount the crisis by unilaterally closing borders, but by working together.”