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Ireland to step up controls for arrivals from Covid-19 hotspots, including US and Middle East

These are part of new measures brought in with the publication of Ireland’s ‘green list’.

An empty concourse at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, taken on 6 May.
An empty concourse at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, taken on 6 May.
Image: SIPA USA/PA Images

IRELAND IS LOOKING at stepping up controls on people arriving from areas with a high number of coronavirus cases, including from the US and the Middle East.

This may include proof of a negative Covid-19 test, it is understood.

When asked about this on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said that areas could become “hotspots” for Covid-19 in the months ahead, and acknowledged that “there could be” restrictions on people arriving from these areas.

He also said that by 10 August, the Passenger Locator Form would be online, and suggested that it could be a prerequisite for being “able to get on the plane”.

“We are going to move the passenger locator form online effectively, to make it an awful lot more accurate to ensure that when people give information, in order for them to be able to get on the plane, the accuracy of that information will need to be verified.”

Coveney said that the government would set up a call centre so that every person who arrives in Ireland will get a follow-up call about their whereabouts, and to make sure they are aware of the public health advice.

There will also be random testing at airports for passengers coming from non-green list countries, Coveney said.

The green list

Last night, the government revealed its ‘green list’ for travel – this is a list of countries where people can travel to, for essential or non-essential reasons, and won’t have to restrict their movements upon returning to Ireland.

These countries all have a similar number of cases per 100,000 over a 14-day average; Ireland has around 4.8 cases per 100,000, while the threshold for the green list requires up to 5 cases per 100,000 of the population.

The 15 countries are: Cyprus, Malta, Finland, Norway, Italy, Hungary, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Greece, Gibraltar, Greenland, Monaco, and San Marino.

There is no change to travel advice for Northern Ireland, the government stressed. The list will be reviewed and updated every two weeks.

In addition to loosening these restrictions, the government is planning to increase measures for monitoring all people who arrive in Ireland, which will include testing at airports of symptomatic passengers.

The government statement released last night said: “The government will continue with plans to strengthen the existing measures for monitoring passengers who arrive into Ireland, including the introduction of an Electronic Passenger Locator Form, enhanced follow-up procedures, a call centre operated by the DAA [Dublin Airport], and a proposed testing regime for symptomatic passengers at airports and ports.

“Processes to restrict flight or passenger travel in certain circumstances will also be explored,” the statement added.

Concerns with insurance and getting to green-list countries

Concerns have been raised with the green list, with Pat Dawson from the Irish Travel Agents Association saying that travel insurance policies for countries on the green list could still not be valid.

“…The non-essential travel ban is not covered by insurance,” he said.

“If consumers follow guidelines and choose not to go on their holidays, they are not entitled to a refund. If the Department of Foreign Affairs issued a ‘do not travel’ advisory, at least consumers would be able to get money back for their flights.” 

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There’s also some confusion about whether passengers who travel to a green list country, but travel through another country to get there if there are no direct flights, will still have to restrict their movements for 14 days when they return to Ireland.

Minister Simon Coveney addressed this issue by saying that Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly spoke to the World Health Organisation’s Dr Mike Ryan about this issue. Coveney said that they “don’t have a significant concern at all with transit airports”.

- with reporting from Christina Finn

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