(Adds Ryanair comment)
DUBLIN, Oct 2 (Reuters) – Ireland’s High Court ruled on Friday that the government’s advice against non-essential travel to most countries due to the risk of COVID-19 infection was legal, dismissing a case brought by low-cost airline Ryanair .
Ireland has some of the strictest COVID-19 travel advice in Europe, advising against non-essential travel to all but four countries – Cyprus, Finland, Latvia and Liechtenstein. Those four countries however have restrictions on incoming passengers from Ireland.
Passengers from all countries – other than those four – coming into Ireland are advised to restrict their movements for 14 days. The government plans to replace the rules with the European Union’s proposed coordinated system when it is ready.
Ryanair had described the measures as “nonsensical” and questioned their legality in a High Court case that rival Aer Lingus also participated in.
“The government acted lawfully in providing travel advice and public health advice in respect of the coronavirus pandemic on a non-statutory basis,” the ruling by Justice Garrett Simons said.
“The advice to avoid non-essential travel and to restrict movements on entry to the State is just that: advice,” the ruling said.
Ryanair launched a similar challenge against the British government alongside Aer Lingus-owner IAG and easyJet in June, and ended the action after London scrapped its 14-day quarantine rule for travellers coming from some of the most popular tourist destinations.
Europe’s largest low-cost carrier welcomed Friday’s judgment because it said it confirmed the travel restrictions are not mandatory and it again urged the government to fully adopt the EU travel rules due to be finalised this month.
“I think it does clarify issues today and we believe the government should immediately adopt the European traffic light system,” Eddie Wilson, chief executive of Ryanair’s main airlines business, told national broadcaster RTE.
“They should get on with that because they’ve abandoned aviation.” (Reporting by Conor Humphries and Padraic Halpin; Editing by Alison Williams, Ana Nicolaci da Costa, Editing by William Maclean)