The Government has adopted a new EU traffic light travel system, designed to make international travel into Ireland easier while the fight against Covid continues.
This could spell good news for people wanting to return home for Christmas, but how exactly does the system work, and how can people avoid the 14-day quarantine period upon arrival?
What are the new rules?
The new rules have been adopted by EU countries and the UK, and a traffic light system of green, orange, red, and grey is being used to categorise areas.
This new system can include regional differences, so make sure you look at localised Covid incidence rates before booking any flights.
- Green zone countries will have a 14-day Covid incidence rate of under 25 cases per 100,000 people, and a test positivity rate below 4%.
- Orange zone countries will have a 14-day Covid incidence rate of under 50 cases per 100,000 people, and their test positivity rate will be 4% or higher. Countries can also be in the orange zone if the 14-day rate is between 25 and 150 cases per 100,000 people and the test positivity rate is below 4%.
- Red zone countries will have a 14-day incidence rate of 50 or more Covid cases per 100,000 people, and the test positivity rate will be 4% or higher. Countries which have a 14-day rate of over 150 cases per 100,000 people will also be in the red zone.
- Grey zone countries have insufficient data on Covid rates. Countries who are testing less than 300 people per 100,000 people will also fall into this grey zone.
If you are coming from a green zone, you won’t be required to quarantine.
If you fly in from an orange or red zone, you don’t have to quarantine for 14 days as long as you get a Covid-19 PCR test within five days of arriving in Ireland, and get a negative/not-detected result, from November 29 onwards.
This rule will also apply to people coming from an orange zone country if they took a PCR test no more than three days before their departure and received a negative/not-detected result.
However, if there are any restrictions in place in Ireland, visitors will have to adhere to them.
Where can I get one of these Covid tests?
These tests are not administered by the HSE and are done privately, so you will have to pay and they can range from €80-€180.
The Government is only accepting the results of PCR tests in relation to exemptions from quarantine.
Dublin, Cork and Shannon airports have announced that they will be opening testing facilities on-site, so it is envisioned people will avail of a test before or after travel.
Drive-through testing centres at Cork and Shannon airports will be run by Irish healthcare company RocDoc, starting from November 12. A RT-PCR test, according to its website, will cost €159.
What about people travelling from outside the EU?
Arrivals from third countries will be treated on the same basis as arrivals from red/grey regions, subject to review.