I thank the Deputy for his question.
The Government's approach to international travel to date has sought to protect public health and contain the disease while respecting that in certain circumstances travel will be essential. Under the plan for living with Covid-19, it is proposed that Ireland will broadly support the European Commission proposals on a co-ordinated approach to the restriction of free movement in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. We will continue to engage with member states and the Commission to develop a regime that is consistent with the public health requirements.
The European Commission proposal is to promote a common approach to travel restrictions and movement within EU. A co-ordinated approach among member states requires joint efforts on four key points: the application of common criteria and thresholds in deciding whether to introduce restrictions to free movement; the mapping of common criteria using an agreed colour code; the adoption of a common approach as to the measures applied to persons moving to and from areas identified as higher risk; and providing the public with clear, comprehensive and timely information about any restrictions and accompanying requirements.
The proposal from the Commission is still under consideration by member states, but there are three components. These are common use of EpiData to determine which country is on which list, quarantine or self-restrictions, and testing at airports. Preparations for the implementation of the European Commission proposal will ensure that the establishment of any pre-departure or on-arrival testing arrangements for incoming travellers do not impact on the testing and tracing of symptomatic patients and serial testing of high-risk groups or workplace environments.
My Department is, therefore, engaging with Department of Health and the HSE in looking at possible ways to provide for a robust testing or screening regime, which is consistent with public health requirements and cognisant of resources and capacity available in the health sector for the testing and tracing of the general public, to allow for an increase in international travel.