British holidaymakers travelling to Ireland will continue to be subject to quarantine as the Dublin government seeks to avoid a second spike of the coronavirus.
Irish prime minister Micheal Martin said the requirement to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival remained in place due to the “international volatility” of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The taoiseach said tackling coronavirus was “key” and highlighted continuing difficulties being experienced in parts of the UK, including the local lockdown in Leicester.
He made his comments as Nicola Sturgeon has said she would not shy away from taking a decision to impose quarantine on English visitors to Scotland, but insisted it would not be a decision she took lightly.
Around three million Britons a year visit Ireland, which is exempt from England’s coronavirus travel quarantine rules.
Mr Martin said the advice from his government to its citizens was to avoid any non-essential travel as they sought to reopen schools next month.
He said his administration will discuss international travel further this week, including whether to strengthen resources at airports.
“We would be very cautious on international travel generally,” he said.
“On 20 July we will announce our measures in relation to international travel and essentially we have developed a methodology somewhat similar to the European Union and its relation with third countries; essentially, the methodology will be in relation to the level of the disease in particular countries, including the UK, countries that are at Ireland’s level or below.
“In terms of people coming in to Ireland, the advisory and the quarantining still remains and it’s under constant review.
“Why? Because there’s a lot of international volatility with this virus, we’ve seen a spike in numbers. We’re very concerned about that.”
Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, Mr Martin emphasised his government wants to take a cautious approach.
“The suppression of the virus is key. We’ve watched reports where, in certain parts of the UK, there are still difficulties where certain areas had to go into lockdown and so on, and further severe restrictions,” he said.
He described doing “everything we possibly can” to avoid a second spike of the virus in the Irish Republic where the reproductive rate of COVID-19 was found to have increased to one last week.
“Clearly the agenda for government is very much dominated by the continued prevalence of the virus and we’re watching very carefully what is happening across Europe in terms of spikes and in terms of experiences of other member states who have opened up earlier than we have,” he added.
So far, Ireland has recorded a total of 1,746 coronavirus-related deaths, with the overall number of COVID-19 cases standing at 25,611.
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Meanwhile, Scotland’s first minister has said the UK nations needed to work together on outbreak management in a way that “mitigates against having to put any border restrictions in place”.
Ms Sturgeon said she was not “immediately planning” to implement a quarantine policy but will “take decisions the best I can to protect the health of Scotland and to take that absolutely from a public health perspective.”