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St. Patrick’s Day parade in Vienna

It was a grand spectacle in miniature, as Austrians, Irish and lovers of the Irish gathered together in Vienna to celebrate one of the traditional Irish holidays that has been shared around the world. With exclusive video report.

St. Patrick's Day parade in Vienna
Photo: Paul Gillingwater

Starting from the Freyung after a mass in Schottenkirche, nearly a thousand people met for the annual St. Patrick's Day celebrations in Vienna, with a parade adding colour and Irish charm to the city's grey streets.

Most of the marchers wore green, as they marched to the sound of pipes and a brass band, celebrating the traditional festival of Ireland's patron saint.

Also in the parade were a pack of Irish setters and wolf hounds, along with their masters, all proudly wearing green.

The Irish ambassador to Austria, Mary Whelan, told something of the history of how St. Patrick's Day was celebrated in Austria in the past, with a story of one occasion involving the emperor in 1776.  

When asked by The Local if today was a good day to be Irish, she responded "It's great to be Irish every day."

Photo: Paul Gillingwater


Photo: Paul Gillingwater

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When can Irish holidaymakers and second home owners travel to Spain?

Irish holidaymakers and second home owners are currently not allowed to travel to Spain due to Irish government restrictions, but when might this be possible again?

When will Irish travellers be able to return to Spain?
Photo: Josep LAGO / AFP

Spain is one of the top holiday destinations for Irish tourists, being the most popular country for travellers from Ireland for the four years prior to the start of the pandemic in 2020.

In 2019, Spain welcomed almost two million Irish holidaymakers to its shores.

So, when will Irish travellers and second home owners be able to holiday in Spain again?

There is currently an Irish Government Advisory in operation against all non-essential international travel, which means that travel to Spain is not allowed right now, but will this change in time for the summer season?

Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) Micheál Martin has suggested that there may be a possibility of holiday travel within Europe starting from late July or August, if the risks associated with Covid-19 are low enough to allow it.

When asked on Morning Ireland RTÉ Radio, whether this will mean that holidaymakers will be able to fly to Spain in late July and August, he replied that the advice was certain that people should avoid all non-essential travel for May and June.  

However, he confirmed that the situation would open up more in July, if transmission rates continued to decline.

“We cannot stay disconnected forever. Ireland is a globalised country,” he said.

“We have to assess all the risks as we move forward. Travel resuming towards the latter half of July is a possibility,” he continued.

Tánaiste (Ireland’s Deputy Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar echoed these sentiments when on April 29th, he told the Irish Independent: “It is, I think just too soon for that return to international travel”, promising the Government would study the issue next month.

“We may be able to allow international travel among countries where the population is substantially vaccinated, but we’re not there yet,” he said.

However, Spain’s Tourism Minister Fernando Valdés has said that Spain will welcome visitors from June.

He outlined the plans at the World Travel & Tourism Council summit in Mexico last week, saying that Spain would participate in a pilot digital certificate scheme in May and would be “ready to receive visitors in June”.

The EU’s Covid-19 certificates, formerly known as Digital Green Certificates, will allow travel to resume across the bloc’s 27 member states by providing information on whether tourists have been vaccinated already, if they have a negative PCR test or if they’ve recently recovered from Covid-19.

READ ALSO: What’s the latest on the EU Covid passports and how will they work in practice?

Initially, Taoiseach Martin highlighted the difficulties in the domestic use of such a document and voiced concerns about how the Covid-19 passport could be discriminatory and limit the freedoms of members of the public who have not yet had a vaccine.

However, on May 1st, it was announced that Ireland is among a group of EU countries that have signed up to a pilot to test the certificate.

A target date of June 1st has been set for the technical launch of the certificates with an actual start date of June 30th. 

It is not yet clear, however, how the millions of people who have already been vaccinated will get hold of one.

So, when the EU’s Digital Green Certificates are finally issued and the Irish government agrees that its citizens can travel once more, it’s likely that travel to Spain can resume. For Irish travellers, it’s looking like a Spanish vacation may be on the cards for late summer.  

READ ALSO: Spain will allow EU travellers with vaccine passports to sidestep covid tests and quarantines

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