Ireland’s safe travel "green list" has been cut to just seven countries, with Greece and Italy among the latest destinations to be cut.
From Monday (21 September), only travel to and from Cyprus, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland will not require those arriving in or returning to the republic to comply with 14-day restrictions on movement.
Italy, Greece, Hungary, Estonia, Greenland, Norway and Slovakia have all been removed from the list.
Ireland will, from 15 October, align with the EU’s traffic light system for common travel, which considers countries with rates of infection of less than 25 cases per 100,000 people as safest to travel to.
The delay, however, means some destinations – including Greece and Italy – will likely be re-added in just a few weeks’ time, while some destinations that would currently make the list under the new rules are left off.
Ryanair and Aer Lingus have been vocal in their criticism of the Irish government’s stance on international travel, with Ryanair branding it "chaotic mismanagement of travel".
"Instead of adopting the EU traffic light system they promised to do only last Tuesday, they have today departed from that policy by taking Italy and Greece from the green list when both countries have Covid rates 60%+ less than Ireland and are also classified under the new EU system as having no travel restrictions within the EU," said Ryanair in a statement on Thursday (17 September).
A spokesperson added:“Today’s announcement shows that the left hand of the government doesn’t know what its right hand is doing. There is no scientific basis behind the decision by minister for foreign affairs Simon Coveney to remove Italy and Greece from the green list, only to add them back again in three weeks time."
The airline said the decisions risked the jobs of 140,000 people directly or indirectly employed in aviation, and a further 325,000 in tourism who depend on aviation.
"This continual, disjointed and mismanaged approach is putting all of these jobs at risk," the spokesperson added.