The body representing the insurance industry in Ireland has said that Government advice remains that people should avoid all but essential travel, and would-be travellers should confirm coverage with their insurer before booking holidays.

In a statement, Insurance Ireland said: "Insurance Ireland would advise all would-be travellers planning on booking a holiday to a green list country to check with their insurer whether they are covered first.

"Government advice still remains that only essential travel should be undertaken and we await further clarity on any change to this position.

"A green list does not equate to a relaxation of the non-essential travel policy."

International travel advice is to be updated by the Government on Monday, with a green list to be issued setting out which countries are considered safe to travel to from Ireland.

The list is expected to include fewer than 20 countries that have rates of new Covid-19 cases similar to or lower than Ireland. Popular holiday destinations such Spain, France and Portugal are not expected to be included in the list.

One key measure will be the number of new cases per 100,000 of population over the past two weeks. In Ireland that figure is 4.7.

Countries in Europe with a lower number include Norway, Finland, Hungary, Estonia, Lithuania, Malta, Cyprus, and Latvia.

Countries that would be not be included on the 'green' list based on this method, include Britain, Spain, France, Portugal and Germany.

Other factors will be taken into account too and will likely determine whether countries like Italy, the Netherlands or Greece, which have similar but slightly higher rates than Ireland, will make the cut.

The EU has published a list of 12 non-EU countries that it deems safe to travel to including Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.

But Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has indicated Ireland will take a far more conservative approach than the wider EU.

Work will continue this weekend on preparing the list and when it is published on Monday it will be updated every two weeks.

The general advice will remain against all non-essential travel, but separate advice will be given for countries on the green list and it is understood that advice will be around exercising caution.

People will not be asked to restrict their movements or isolate after visiting countries on the green list.

CEO of the Irish Travel Agents Association, Pat Dawson, has said that the green list of countries due to be published on Monday would be "effectively useless" unless travel advice relating to the named countries is changed.

Currently, people are advised against all non-essential travel abroad.

Mr Dawson said that there needed to be clarity in relation to the travel advice as it relates to the countries that make it onto the green list.

However even if this is forthcoming, Mr Dawson said he expected little to change in relation to foreign travel from Monday.

He said the countries likely to make it onto the list do not attract large numbers of Irish tourists.

"It will open a valve a little bit," Mr Dawson told RTÉ News, "but it won't be an avalanche".

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Blue Insurance has said that it will cover people travelling to countries on the 'green' list.

Managing Director Ciaran Mulligan said he expects that the Government will say that "non-essential travel" to these countries will be permitted.

However, if it does not, Mr Mulligan said Blue Insurance will go back to its underwriters and hopes that they will still cover travel to these countries due to the low incidences of cases of Covid-19.

Meanwhile, Ryanair CEO Eddie Wilson said by implementing a 'green' list of countries safe to travel to Ireland will have a "half-baked, ineffective quarantine" and will be cutting itself off from Europe.

Speaking on RTÉ's The Business, Mr Wilson said the rest of Europe has balanced the public health guidance with getting back to business and "we need to do it here".

He said "this is not about holidays, it is about business and connectivity".

Mr Wilson said Ireland is "saying we are different and we are closed for business" and having  a quarantine "says there is something wrong".

He said there is a need to restore confidence and by putting sensible measures in place and controlling clusters, we can gradually get back to normal.