A MERE 1,461 passengers arrived into Ireland through Shannon Airport between November 30 and January 3, according to figures presented to the Dáil by Minister Eamon Ryan.
The number doesn’t include passengers who were on flights that stopped over at Shannon, before going on to other destinations.
The majority of the passengers, 1032, came from the UK. Another 213 came from Poland, 78 from Italy, 45 from France, and the remainder from a large number of countries.
December would traditionally be a rather busy month at Shannon, but even before the recent Covid wave, traffic had almost completely ceased.
Speaking in the Dáil after presenting the figures, Minister Ryan said, “The extent to which the public, including arriving passengers, are advised to either restrict movement, adhere to other public health measures or undertake Covid-19 testing is based on the advice of the public health authorities. My Department assists with the implementation of public health measures in relation to international travel, as decided by Government following relevant public health advice.
“The Government continues to advise against non-essential international travel and that essential travel is undertaken with due regard to public health safety measures.
“With effect from 16 January 2021, all passengers arriving into Ireland (unless exempt) are required to have evidence of a negative or ‘not detected’ result from a pre-departure COVID-19 RT-PCR test that was carried out no more than 72 hours prior to arrival in Ireland. Passengers are asked to present evidence of their negative/‘not detected’ result before boarding their airplane and will be denied boarding if they cannot produce such evidence or do not claim to fall into an exempt category.
“Passengers who arrive in an Irish airport or seaport without the required evidence , and who are not in an exempt category, commit an offence and may be subject to prosecution, punishable by a fine not exceeding €2,500 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or both.”
On Tuesday the Government announced there would be an increase to the fixed penalty for breach of rules relating to international travel. They also announced increased Garda checks and enforcement relating to people travelling internationally who are in breach of Level 5 rules, that regulations on pre-departure PCR tests will be extended to March and a range of mandatory quarantine measures will be introduced, applying to all international arrivals.
Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.