– Rapid, repeat testing needed immediately to help aviation and tourism sectors –

“If Ireland continues to lock itself away from the rest of Europe due to Covid 19, tens of thousands of jobs in the Irish aviation and tourism sectors will be put at risk,” said Fianna Fáil MEP, Billy Kelleher.

The Ireland South MEP was commenting after reports emerged that both Aer Lingus and Ryanair are considering reducing, or worse ending, their presence at Cork and Shannon Airports.

“Ireland’s tardiness in forging ahead with the introduction of rapid, repeat testing at its airports will mean only one thing – job losses.

“There’s no two ways about it. Either we can choose to align ourselves with the rest of Europe and apply the same type of testing regime, or we can shut our island off and see thousands of people lose their livelihoods.

“The impact on the regional economy will be profound. Not only will there be direct job losses in the airlines and airports, we will see further damage to regional economies as tourist dollars and euros dry up.

“We must find a way of living with Covid 19. As an island nation, we must have connectivity to the continent and across the Atlantic.

“The Government need to press ahead with introducing rapid, repeat testing at our airports with follow up tests. If we can reduce the time people need to self-isolate when they arrive into our country, we can give the aviation and tourism sectors the boost they desperately need,” concluded Kelleher.