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All inbound travellers to Ireland will need a negative Covid test from Friday amid Omicron concerns

The measures will be in place for the next two weeks before they are reviewed.

LAST UPDATE | Nov 30th 2021, 5:07 PM

FROM FRIDAY, ALL travellers arriving into Ireland will be required to have a negative Covid-19 test.

The negative test can be either a PCR test taken in the previous 72 hours or a professionally-administered antigen test taken in the past 48 hours.

The new measures come amid increasing concern about the Omicron variant of Covid-19 and will be reviewed again in a fortnight’s time.

The travel requirements will come into effect at 00.01am on Friday and will apply to persons arriving into the State at ports and airports from overseas.

It therefore includes people travelling from Britain. Similar requirements for a negative test introduced in the UK last week do not require people travelling from Ireland to provide a negative test

Children aged 11 and under will not be required to have a negative test. 

People who not have a negative test and arrive in Ireland will be subject to fines and will be required to isolate at home or their final destination until they can provide a negative test. 

The government has also said that it legislation allowing for Mandatory Hotel Quarantine will be published this week. 

The government has said that air and sea carriers will be required to carry out pre-boarding checks on passengers before departure to Ireland. 

Speaking this afternoon, Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien said Dublin Airport would be “well able to handle” the additional checks that would be required. 

He also said that people going on short breaks abroad would be able to use a negative test taken in Ireland on their return if it was still within the testing period. 

Advice for children

At a meeting today, the Cabinet also agreed to advise parents to reduce their children’s social contacts outside of school.

Children from the age of nine will be asked to wear a face covering in certain public settings for the first time on a temporary basis.

Children aged nine and older will be advised to wear masks in particular indoor settings, including schools, shops and public transport, subject to a review in mid-February.

In schools, the measures applies to children in third class and older classes.On his way into the Cabinet meeting this morning Health Minister Stephen Donnelly told reporters that there had been concern about the rise in cases among nine, 10 and 11-year-olds.

“I would certainly hope that there will be very clear guidance on mask wearing in schools and that will be very clear advice for parents obviously,” he said.

“The analysis we saw last night shows that it’s particularly high in nine, 10 and 11 year olds, and hence the recommendations for masks from third class. The evidence we have suggests that they [masks] really have been very effective, for example, in secondary schools, so we’ll be discussing that this morning.

“And then obviously, parents want to make sure that they’re making the right decisions by their children, they’re keeping their kids safe. Hopefully coming out of Cabinet we’ll have clear guidance for parents as well.”

“We have seen in the last few weeks, particularly as numbers have continued to increase, the general public have pulled back, be it cancelling large gatherings or just reducing and restricting their overall movements,” Justice Minister Helen McEntee said yesterday.

“When it comes to kids’ birthday parties or any type of gatherings, that is the case here too.”

Niall Muldoon, the Children’s Ombudsman said any introduction of child specific regulations must take into account the impact on children.  

“They understand that the world is living with a deadly virus and that’s a really sad thing to hear. That’s where we need to try and ensure that the children’s impact on the children is as minimum as possible,” he said on Morning Ireland. 

Muldoon also said that the rise in domestic violence incidents during the pandemic has been exposing children to danger.

“This inability to move out of your house and then there are restrictions around that can be very, very dangerous for children and families that aren’t safe, or the vulnerable.

“That’s something we have to continue to respond, to ensure that the gardaí and social workers and all of us involved in child protection are very much aware of this and that support is given to those children and the families are vulnerable in that circumstance,” he added.

Antigen testing

Opposition politicians have also been criticising the government’s decision not to subsidise the cost of antigen tests.

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said yesterday that the plans have been shelved because the price of the kits has fallen in recent weeks. Donnelly said the tests are now available for between €3-4 in some supermarkets and pharmacies, so the need to “spend taxpayer money to subsidise them” no longer exists.

Speaking today, Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall said the government had “made a mistake” in not subsidising the tests, adding that while the price may have dropped in some larger retail chains they remain more expensive in pharmacies. 

“The government shouldn’t be leaving this important tool to the vagaries of the market, it’s important that the government takes its responsibilities seriously in terms of ensuring certainty of supply and also that the quality is good,” she said. 

Labour’s Duncan Smith also raised similar objections to the government’s “u-turn”. 

“If you take a box of five for €15, which is already a reduced price at some retailers, if you have a family of four or five and you’re in low pay or social welfare payments, if this is to be a regular tool in suppressing the virus into 2022, then this is going to be a cost that people just ultimately would be unable to afford,” he said. 

Public health officials confirmed yesterday 4,607 new cases of Covid-19 in Ireland. On Sunday, 3,735 new Covid-19 cases were confirmed.

- With reporting by Niall O’Connor

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