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New Covid testing rules delayed until Sunday for inbound travellers

A negative Covid-19 test will be required for all those arriving into Ireland from Sunday.

LAST UPDATE | 3 Dec 2021

THE IMPLEMENTATION OF new rules requiring all overseas travellers to Ireland to have a negative Covid-19 test has been delayed until Sunday.

The rules were scheduled to come into force after midnight this morning but were pushed back as the rules needed to be “finalised”.

In a statement to The Journal, Aer Lingus said: “The Irish Government notified airlines last night that the new regulations will now have an operational date of 5 December and not 3 December as previously advised.”

“We will implement accordingly,” Aer Lingus said.

In a press briefing tonight, the Transport Minister Eamon Ryan said that the introduction of the move has been delayed to facilitate airport staff and airlines to get the system in place. 

“We will still be able to travel it is not a restriction either within the country or outside the country.

“But again from the good precautionary principle, we’re introducing the requirement for an antigen test if someone is vaccinated or previously recovered from Covid or PCR test if someone is unvaccinated.

“It’s put back to tomorrow night to give airports and others time to introduce the measures and the regulations needed.

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly signed off on the regulations amending requirements around international travel to Ireland this evening. Anyone travelling to Ireland after midnight on Saturday will need to produce a negative Covid-19 test.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Justice Minister Helen McEntee denied that the change was an example of confusion behind the scenes in government. 

“I think people will appreciate that a number of departments are involved here. It takes time where you have to engage and make sure that the regulations are correct. This is simply procedural. It’s not that there has been a change at all. There is just a little bit longer time needed between departments to finalise these,” she said. 

After a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, the government confirmed the new travel rules requiring negative tests for inbound travel. 

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

The new measures, which are be reviewed again in a fortnight’s time, come amid increasing concern about the Omicron variant of Covid-19 and will apply to persons arriving into the State at ports and airports from overseas, and including 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

People who do 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.

On Wednesday, the first case of the new Omicron variant of Covid-19 was detected in Ireland in an individual who had returned from southern Africa.

A preliminary study by South African scientists suggests the Omicron variant is three times more likely to cause reinfections compared to the Delta or Beta strains. The findings, based on data collected by the country’s health system, provide the first epidemiological evidence about Omicron’s ability to evade immunity from prior infection.

With reporting by Garreth MacNamee, Rónán Duffy and Lauren Boland

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