– Repeat testing should be explored to reduce quarantining obligations –

Fianna Fáil MEP Billy Kelleher has urged the Irish Government to engage fully with the European Commission and the other 26 member states to align future Covid 19 re-opening plans.

Kelleher was speaking following a meeting of European Union Ambassadors that discussed how to better coordinate Covid 19 restrictions and the reopening of economies.

“We know that there is an appetite among countries who are members of the Schengen Agreement to ensure that common rules apply in the months and years ahead.

“However, as Ireland is not a member of Schengen, I have concerns about Ireland’s voice not being heard.

“Our country cannot be left isolated when it comes to reopening travel and business in the next 6-9 months. We must find a way of engaging that we are not left behind.

“I am aware that the Irish Government will publish its medium term plans for dealing with Covid 19 this month but I would urge them to engage properly with colleagues across the EU.

“Above all else, citizens want certainty and coherence in terms of rules and messaging.

“For example, Ireland is one of a small number of countries in Europe not making use of Covid 19 testing when deciding what quarantine requirements are being placed on visitors to the country.

“This doesn’t make sense to me quite frankly. If public health advice in certain EU member states believes that repeat testing reduces the risk enough to allow for reduced quarantining obligations, then why not in Ireland?

“We need to reopen our economy as safely and as quickly as possible. As an island nation, travel by air and by sea is essential.

“Our decision making must be determined by science and by evidence,” concluded Kelleher.