It's the dream car parking spot. The same floor I drove in on. Right beside the entrance door. There isn’t even an adjoining car to force an awkward twist and slide motion out of the vehicle. This is the best parking spot I’ve ever had in Dublin Airport but there’s no enjoyment in it because it illustrates just how quiet the terminal is.
We went to the airport to speak to arriving passengers about Ireland’s travel green list. You might be forgiven for forgetting that the green list exists given there’s been almost radio silence for most of the last month. Ireland’s Covid cases have spiked considerably in recent weeks but no countries have been added to the list. We’re still asking people coming from places with better rates than us to restrict their movements.
Originally a Fine Gael idea it was, by all accounts, reluctantly implemented by Fianna Fail in July. At the time Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney explained: "There are countries, particularly in Europe that have a very similar numbers to Ireland that don’t represent a higher risk level than are present here.
"We think a green list approach whereby we are not applying the kind of restrictions to countries that have similar risk levels to Ireland makes sense."
But while earlier this month five countries were taken off the list, there have been no nations added to it.
When the green list was first drafted Ireland’s Covid infection rate was around five cases per 100,000 people. Today the number is 32.
That figure is higher than plenty of other countries including Sweden and the United Kingdom. If you travel from those countries you are still required to restrict your movements.
It’s frustrating for expat Donal Kane, who has lived in London for 15 years. He and his young family haven’t been back to Dublin for six months.
"The advice that was given out by the public health authorities seems to be that people are encouraged not to go to Ireland. Official Ireland is not welcoming us," he explained.
"There's many reasons why people's lives don't sit down national boundaries anymore. People's lives and lifestyles require a lot of travel and the freedom to do that has been strongly curtailed.
"Most people want to play by the rules but the rules should be sensible and transparent."
But Donal could be waiting for things to change. According to the Department of the Taoiseach the green list is now being reviewed.
"The Government decided on the 18th August that there would be no change to the current travel advisory pending a review of the international situation. The public health advice has not changed, which is against all non-essential travel," the statement said.
When the acting Chief Medical Officer was asked earlier this week about the list his response was unusually curt.
"The green list is a matter for Government".
There’s no timeline indicated for the review. No countries have been added or removed from the list since 4 August, despite the big changes in Covid rates across Europe.
It’s understandably exercising the travel industry. Ryanair claiming that thousands of jobs are in jeopardy.
"Unless there is immediate action from Minister Ryan, then over 140,000 jobs in Irish aviation and over 325,000 jobs in Irish tourism, face a bleak winter with the threat of many thousands of job losses," the company warned.
Some public health experts say if there ever was a justification for a green list things have now changed as we learn more about how the virus travels.
"When the history of this pandemic is written, it's likely that there will be an indication that the first global spread was associated with travels around Christmas and New Year. Then Europe was a hotspot, and that's likely because of the ski resorts in Austria, especially France, which coincided with half term," explains Prof Emer Shelley, Dean of the Faculty of Public Health Medicine at the Royal College of Physicians in Ireland.
"Really, there is no 'no risk’ place on the planet at the moment. The green list was aiming to find low risk places. And that would be fine if it was only Irish people going to those places and that you had your own private jet go to them. But there are so many other issues involved that it's really impossible to predict which countries might be safe to travel to."
While I may have nabbed the platinum airport parking space I definitely don’t have a private jet. So the wait for clarity on the green list continues.