The farce that is the Government’s Green List continues, with a revised list of just seven countries coming into effect on Monday 21 September. The previous list of 10 countries, last updated on 4 August, remained in place over the weekend. On Monday seven countries (Estonia, Greece, Greenland, Hungary, Italy, Norway, and Slovakia) were removed and four (Cyprus, Germany, Iceland, and Poland) added – but by Sunday two were no longer ‘Green’ countries!
The countries on the new Green List had fewer than 25 cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 over the 14 days up to 17 September, based on data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). However, Liechtenstein, which is a member of the European Economic Area but not of the EU, is not included, even though it had a rate of 7.8. Ireland’s rate was 54.7, putting it into the EU’s ‘red’ zone, and by yesterday, 21 September, had increased to 66.5.
The Department of Foreign Affairs has changed its travel advice to: “General advice is to avoid non-essential travel, other than to countries on the ‘Green List’ where the ‘normal precautions’ security status rating will apply. The request to restrict their movements does not apply to individuals arriving into Ireland from countries on the Green List.”
However, it would seem that anyone leaving Ireland for a Green List country then returning when that country has since become an Orange or Red country – will still ‘be requested to restrict their movements’. This is a distinct possibility for countries with rates near 25 such as Poland (22.2 yesterday) and Lithuania (23.7). What is more Germany and Iceland had already moved from ‘green’ to ‘orange’ by Sunday and yesterday had rates of 25.9 and 57.4 respectively.
Further changes to the Green List farce can be expected as it is to be reviewed on a weekly basis.
The rates for the seven ‘new’ countries were: Cyprus 6.1, Finland 10.7, Germany 23.7, Iceland 19.0, Latvia, 4.2, Lithuania 17.3, and Poland 19.0. Five of these countries (but not Germany or Poland) have local restrictions or requirements in place for would-be visitors from Ireland.
Ryanair and Aer Lingus Responses
Ryanair, whose case against the Irish Government’s policy continues in the High Court, urged the Government “to put an end to their chaotic mismanagement of travel during the Covid-19 crisis”.
Aer Lingus said: “On Tuesday the Government indicated that it would align with the proposals developed by the European Commission which outlines a co-ordinated approach to free movement across the European Union and European Economic Area. The ‘green list’ announced today does not represent a step towards alignment with the European Commission’s free movement proposal.
“The application of that proposal would have seen the following countries retained on the list: Greece, Italy, Norway, and Slovakia. It would also have seen the following countries added to the list: Bulgaria, Sweden, Slovenia, Denmark, United Kingdom, Portugal, Belgium, Netherlands, Austria, Luxembourg, Malta.
“Aer Lingus looks forward to the early and complete implementation of the European Commission’s free movement proposal.”