The Tánaiste has said that people who are not fully vaccinated against Covid-19 can travel abroad, but they will need the Digital Covid Certificate and negative PCR tests before they return to Ireland.
Asked on RTÉ's The Week in Politics about the advice from Dr Tony Holohan that unvaccinated people should not travel abroad, Leo Varadkar said that if he was the chief medical officer that is the advice he would give.
Mr Varadkar said the advice from CMO is "totally right" from scientific and medical perspectives, but the Government has to take wider considerations into account too.
The Tánaiste has acknowledged that government policy on EU travel under the Digital Covid Certificate for those who are not fully vaccinated differs from the advice of the Chief Medical Officer | https://t.co/XAUXxL2WZa pic.twitter.com/OhydgxFXla— RTÉ News (@rtenews) June 20, 2021
He said the Government is putting laws in place which are different to the CMO's advice, taking fairness into account, particularly for young people, who are at the back of the queue for Covid-19 vaccines.
The Tánaiste urged anyone who is travelling abroad to be aware that they need to know two sets of rules - both for the country they are travelling to, and the rules for coming back to Ireland.
On advice by Dr Tony Holohan that unvaccinated people should not travel abroad, Tánaiste @LeoVaradkar says 'If I was the CMO, that's the advice that I would give', but the Government has wider considerations, and unvaccinated people can travel, but will need the digital cert pic.twitter.com/Mz4zrVpvNh— RTÉ News (@rtenews) June 20, 2021
Asked about families going on summer holidays in situations where the parents have been vaccinated and their children have not, Dr Holohan said he would not be advising for such families not to travel.
According to the latest Government advice, restrictions around international travel will begin to be eased from 19 July.
This will mean people will be permitted to travel abroad for non-essential reasons, subject to public health guidance and restrictions.
Mr Varadkar also said that if the Delta variant of Covid-19 takes off, restrictions could be re-imposed.
Meanwhile, the Department of Health has been notified of 288 new cases of Covid-19.
There were 49 patients in hospital with the virus, including 15 in ICU, up one from yesterday.
The department said daily case numbers may change due to future data review validation and update.
Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said that the Department of Health is examining the possibility of running a combined Covid-19 and flu vaccine programme later this yeard.
Speaking on RTE's This Week, he said the Chief Medical Officer is looking at how best to incorporate the different strands of vaccine programmes to also include the catch-up of HPV vaccines and school vaccines, as well as booster Covid-19 vaccines.
He said a Covid-19 booster programme for nursing homes is beginning to be planned, and the HSE may retain some of the mass vaccination centres.
He also said the Government is concerned over the rise in cases of the Delta variant in the UK.
People aged 39 can register for a vaccine today
Registration for a Covid-19 vaccine begins today for people aged 35 to 39, starting with 39-year-olds.
The Health Service Executive expects to be giving first doses for the whole 30s age group right through July amounting to more than 700,000 people with second doses a month later.
It is hoped the vaccination of people aged in their 20s will begin by late July or early August, depending on the reliability of supply lines.
HSE Chief Executive Paul Reid said on Twitter, that while there was "much frustration" over the supply levels at the start of Ireland's vaccination programme, vaccine supplies are now at their strongest at over 300,000 per week.
There was much frustration at the start of our vaccination programme as supply levels were weaker and unpredictable. But we're now in a three week period of our strongest supplies at over 300,000 per week. And today we commence the registration for those aged 39. @HSELive— Paul Reid (@paulreiddublin) June 20, 2021
The Chair of the High Level Task Force on Covid-19 Vaccination said yesterday that more than 900,000 doses will be delivered to Ireland within the next two weeks.
Professor Brian MacCraith said between 23 and 30 June there will be three major deliveries each greater than 300,000 doses, the largest since the vaccination programme began.
Registration for a COVID-19 Vaccine is now open for everyone age 39-69— Stephen Donnelly (@DonnellyStephen) June 20, 2021
You'll need PPSN, Eircode, Mobile Number and Email address. https://t.co/F6yPNTGZo9 or @HSELive on 1850 24 1850 #ForUsAll pic.twitter.com/98lLP61PuJ
Meanwhile, a consultant in infectious disease at St James's Hospital has said it is "inevitable" that the Delta variant of Covid-19 will become the next dominant strain in Ireland.
Dr Cliona Ní Cheallaigh said Covid-19 vaccines do counteract the effects of the variant and while trying to slow it down is a good idea, it "is going to come and take over as the Kent strain/Alpha strain did".
Speaking on RTÉ's Brendan O'Connor programme, she said this is a critical period for the vaccination programme, but the "nightmare" scenario is where a variant emerges that does not respond to vaccines.