Uncertainty surrounding Covid-19 is causing further confusion around travel abroad.

While the Government had recently announced the possibility of travel restrictions to certain countries being eased from next week, last night the Chief Medical Officer spoke about travel-related clusters of the virus and the threat of a potential resurgence.

Based on this, Dr Tony Holohan has advised people to cancel their foreign holidays.

It has led to much confusion.

The Irish Travel Agents Association has called on the Government to give clarity to consumers and those working in the industry, and make a decision on whether people should travel abroad or not.

ITAA Chief Executive Pat Dawson is critical of the fact that as more flights take to the skies, people are now being advised not to travel.

He said if the Government is advising the consumer not to travel abroad, then it should cancel all flights and ensure people are refunded.

Securing a refund will be a major concern for those who decide to cancel their trip abroad, but it could prove difficult even with travel insurance.

Ciaran Mulligan, Director of Blue Insurance and Multitrip, has said there is no cover for "disinclination to travel".

However, he said anyone who booked a holiday or trip prior to 13 March and took out a policy before this date who has Government Travel Advice or Travel Disruption cover on their policy is covered. This is in the event that their flight operates while the Department of Foreign Affairs is advising against all non-essential travel. 

For those holding out hope that the Government might give a green light to their trip abroad, it remains a waiting game.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said today the Government is still looking at a possible roadmap for the resumption of international travel.

Meanwhile, a member of the Government's Interim Task Force on Aviation has said that Ireland needed a better way to co-exist safely with Covid-19 than what she called a flawed quarantine process.

Patricia King, who is the General Secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, said there was nothing in the quarantine process to identify whether or not any of the 3,800 people who passed through Dublin Airport in the past week had the coronavirus or to stop them infecting others in the airport.

She said a better location test and trace scheme was needed.

Earlier this month, the taskforce issued an interim report urging the Government to end the 14-day quarantine and to encourage people to travel abroad.

Editor of Air and Travel Magazine, Eoghan Corry, has said the real issue that people are raising in recent days is the question of who is making travel policy and said it is not clear if it is the Government or the health authorities.

He said the reality is that nothing has changed. The Government has not updated its travel policy. All but essential travel is being discouraged to every country in the world. 

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Mr Corry said that the rest of Europe has moved on and the European Commission revealed a plan on 27 May for a lowering of borders and the last phase will happen tomorrow when Spain opens.

He said the Government has not updated its position and this has resulted in a vacuum of political advice. The only information has come from the health authorities, he said, which was to tell people to cancel their bookings.

Earlier, European Union member states lifted travel restrictions into the EU for 14 countries from tomorrow. The list excludes the United States, Britain, Russia and Turkey.

The decision, which comes in the form of a recommendation, confirms that since Ireland is not a member of the Schengen free travel area the measure does not apply.

The 14 countries are Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay.

Chinese residents will be allowed to travel to the EU providing Beijing introduces reciprocal measures for EU residents.

Countries qualify for the list so long as they meet epidemiological criteria. In particular, the number of new Covid-19 cases in the past 14 days and the number per 100,000 inhabitants must be close to or below the EU average as it stood on 15 June.

Countries should have a stable or decreasing trend of new cases over this period in comparison to the previous 14 days.

The qualifying criteria also include the availability of information on testing, surveillance, contact tracing, containment treatment and reporting.

The recommendation from member states is non-binding in that national capitals remain responsible for decisions on allowing third country residents in.

The list will be reviewed every two weeks.

Russia and Brazil are among countries that also did not make the initial "safe list".

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The European Commission proposed a ban on non-essential travel to the EU for thirty days on 17 March.

At the time the ban applied to the Schengen passport free travel zone, as well as the associated Schengen states Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, with Ireland and the UK "encouraged" to join, "taking into account the Common Travel Area".

The EU's efforts to reopen internal borders, particularly among the 26-nation Schengen area, which normally has no frontier checks, have been patchy as various countries have restricted access for certain visitors.

The Schengen area comprises 22 EU countries plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, but does not include Ireland.

Greece is mandating Covid-19 tests for arrivals from a range of EU countries, including France, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain, with self-isolation until results are known.

The Czech Republic is not allowing in tourists from Portugal and Sweden.

Irish citizens are urged not to undertake any non-essential travel abroad.

People arriving into Ireland are expected to self-isolate for 14 days and must complete a form showing where they will self-isolate.

British residents can travel to many EU countries, although non-essential travellers to Britain are required to self-isolate for 14 days.

'Nowhere without risk' when it comes to travel - WHO

The World Health Organization has said that "nowhere is 100% safe" and "nowhere is without risk" in relation to international travel.

Dr Margaret Harris of the WHO said that countries with good communication with citizens and good testing and tracing systems will stand a better chance of stopping any flare-up of the coronavirus.

Speaking on RTÉ's Drivetime, Dr Harris said the key factor is the testing and tracing capacity of a country's health authorities, as they are the only tools to ensure separation between those who have Covid-19 and those who have not.

She said the WHO has not seen any transmission directly related to travelling on a plane, adding that she believes the quality of air conditioning on planes to be of a "very high standard".

"From what I have read they have improved the amount of replacement air to such an extent that you are in a very good environment and we haven't seen any transmission that way."

Additional reporting Tony Connelly