The UK, Spain, France and Portugal are among the most notable exclusions from the Irish government’s initial "green list" of countries from which nationals can return without having to self-isolate.
In total, just 15 countries and territories make the list – Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, Gibraltar, Greece, Greenland, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Monaco, Norway, San Marino and Slovakia.
Prior to its publication, the Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA) branded plans for a green list "meaningless" and "futile" while the country’s existing advice against all travel remains in force.
Most prominent holiday destinations have been excluded as the list is based on countries where the rate of coronavirus infection is the same or lower than that of the Republic of Ireland.
"Anyone arriving into Ireland from these locations will not have to restrict their movements," said the Irish government in a statement issued on Wednesday (22 July). "Passengers from any other location outside of those with a normal precautions advisory are asked to restrict their movements for 14 days.
"The government will continue with plans to strengthen the existing measures for monitoring passengers who arrive into Ireland, including the introduction of an Electronic Passenger Locator Form, enhanced follow-up procedures, a call centre operated by the DAA [Dublin Airport Authority], and a proposed testing regime for symptomatic passengers at airports and ports."
The list will be reviewed on a fortnightly basis. There will be no change in the country’s current policy in respect of travel from Northern Ireland, which could allow travellers to circumvent the 14-day quarantine requirement.
However, the government further advises: "The pandemic is not over, and the public health advice remains the same. The safest thing to do is not to travel."
The Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA) has branded the Irish government’s "green list" proposals "meaningless" and futile" unless the country’s current travel restrictions are lifted.
"The association believes the list could cause confusion for both inbound and outbound travellers, unless travel advice relating to the countries on the list changes," said the ITAA.
"The current advice from the National Public Health Emergency Team states all non-essential foreign travel should be avoided, regardless of whether a country is on the proposed green list or not.
"The association is dissatisfied with the mixed messaging from the government, and believes a clear decision must be made between cancelling all flights and offering compensation to affected customers, or lifting the non-essential travel ban for the countries on the green list."
Instead, the ITAA has advocated "air bridge" agreements on routes to countries within Europe with a similar rate of coronavirus recovery to Ireland.
Additionally, the ITAA believes the current guidelines risk denying consumers the right to a refund if they choose to cancel their flights.
“Unless the current travel restrictions are lifted, there is no point in issuing a ’green list’ of countries for Irish travellers as the Department of Foreign Affairs is still advising against all non-essential travel out of Ireland," said ITAA chief executive Pat Dawson.
"The current guidelines have had a huge impact on Irish consumers, as the non-essential travel ban is not covered by insurance. If consumers follow guidelines and choose not to go on their holidays, they are not entitled to a refund. If the Department of Foreign Affairs issued a ‘do not travel’ advisory, at least consumers would be able to get money back for their flights.”
Dawson added the current regime was a threat to the country’s travel sector. “The current travel restrictions provide no relief to either inbound or outbound travel, which will have a knock on effect on the Irish travel industry well into the future.
"We are asking the government and the Department of Foreign Affairs to make a clear decision on the current guidelines so that we can begin to rebuild our industry.”
It warns 250,000 travel and tourism jobs are at risk in Ireland.