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Wednesday 22 March 2023 Dublin: 12°C
# covid19
A lockdown extension and new travel rules - Here are the main points you need to know
Level 5 is with us until at least 5 March.

THIS EVENING THE government confirmed an extension of the current restrictions and a tightening of travel regulations, including a crackdown on those intending to travel abroad. 

Extension of restrictions

Let’s start with the straightforward part.

The government has decided to extend the current Level 5 restrictions until 5 March.

This means:

  • You’re advised to stay at home, other than for essential retail or to exercise within 5km of your home.
  • No social or family visits are allowed in private homes or gardens.
  • The advice to work from home, if possible, remains in place.
  • Only essential retail can open – click and collect is not allowed.
  • All hospitality remains closed.
  • The majority of construction work is not permitted.
  • Funeral attendance is limited to ten people.
  • Weddings are limited to six guests.


This is where it gets a bit more complicated. 

First, the government wants to re-emphasise that people should not be travelling outside of their 5km radius and this includes non-essential travel out of the country.

The Taoiseach said additional gardaí will be deployed to ports and airports and those found in breach of this regulation will be subject to an increased fine of €500. 

There are some changes for those arriving into the country too:

  • All visa-free short term travel from South Africa and all of South America is suspended until at least 5 March. The Taoiseach said this can be put in place immediately. 
  • Anyone who arrives from Brazil or South Africa will be subject to a mandatory quarantine at a designated facility.
  • Anyone who arrives into the country (from anywhere else) without a pre-departure negative PCR test will also have to quarantine at one of these facilities. They will also be subject to a €2,500 fine or six months imprisonment.
  • Everyone else arriving into the country (once they have a pre-departure negative PCR result) will be required by law to quarantine at home. They can free themselves from this quarantine after five days with a negative PCR test result here in Ireland. 
  • If any countries in the European ‘traffic light’ system move to green or amber (due to a reduction in their incidence), they will not need to quarantine at all once they have a negative pre-departure test.

These regulations will apply to anyone who travels into the Republic from any port or airport on the island, including those in the North. Gardaí will be able to turn people back at the border if they are in breach of the regulations.

The Taoiseach said detailed legislation will be needed to implement some of these measures and work will get underway on this immediately. He said much of the regulatory framework will be ready by the end of this week. 


It is unlikely that a full reopening of schools will happen before March.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar today said the aim of the extension of the Level 5 restrictions is, in part, to enable a phased opening of schools across February and March, starting with children who have special educational needs. 

“The reason why we would prefer to do it on a phased basis is because of the more transmissible B117 variant (the UK variant) and not wanting to take that risk of one million children moving on one day,” he said.

“But this is something we’re very keen to agree with everyone involved in education, not just teachers’ unions but also parents’ groups, students’ groups and the management bodies as well. 

What happens after 5 March?

The restrictions are working, the incidence rates are coming down and hospitalisations are stabilising. However, Micheál Martin said “there are no guarantees about anything”.

“We’ve got to get these hospitalisation numbers down, we’ve got to reduce community transmission and ICU numbers. We will review it again on the 5th of March, there are no guarantees about anything.

“But remember parallel with this now for the first time, parallel with these restrictions is the rollout of the vaccination programme. And that is a very key game-changer compared to last year, for example. 

“The more and more that we vaccinate and the more vulnerable groups we vaccinate, the most elderly people we vaccinate, both in residential [care] and in the community , and frontline healthcare workers, we do give ourselves a bit more choice as we move along the year.”

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