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Leah Farrell/

People travelling from Britain or South Africa required to have negative Covid test before arrival

The change will kick in this Saturday.

THE GOVERNMENT HAS announced changes to travel restrictions which will require people travelling from Britain or South Africa to have a negative Covid-19 test result before they arrive.

Following a Cabinet meeting today, Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan said the current travel ban in place for those travelling from Britain and South Africa is to be extended until midnight on 8 January.

From 9 January, all passengers arriving at Irish airports and ports whose journey originates in Britain or South Africa will be requested to have evidence of a negative result from a pre-departure PCR Covid-19 test taken up to 72 hours prior to arrival.

The decision to introduce a new requirement for these passengers follows concern about two new coronavirus variants. 

Minister Ryan said people will have to present evidence of their negative results to border management officials or gardaí on arrival and could face a fine of up to €2,500 or up to six months in prison for non-compliance.

He said the level of travel into Ireland from these countries is now “at negligible numbers”.

“We can manage that [compliance checks] on a person-by-person basis because the numbers are going to be so small,” he said.

Even with a negative test result, people arriving from Britain and South Africa will still be advised to self-isolate for two weeks.

The minister acknowledged this may be “very difficult” for the travel industry and for those who have already made plans for travel.

International transport workers, including workers in aviation, maritime and road haulage sectors, are exempt from this requirement.

The government has said if a citizen has a genuine humanitarian emergency requiring urgent travel, they should contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate immediately for advice and consular assistance before commencing their journey.

In a statement this evening, Aer Lingus said it will seek evidence of the PCR test at boarding when the rules come into place. 

At boarding in Great Britain, Aer Lingus will require all customers to present evidence (e.g. email, text of document) of a negative PCR test result that can subsequently be verified by border control staff in Ireland. Customers that do not have such evidence will be advised that they may be prosecuted on arrival if they proceed to travel.

Aer Lingus also confirmed that it would recommence flights from Britain to Ireland on 9 January. 

- With reporting by Rónán Duffy

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