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Dublin: 13°C Tuesday 19 October 2021

Tánaiste questions confusion over 'quarantine' for passengers - but HSE advice changed this month

HSE advice shifted from self-isolation to asking people to restrict movements.

One of the notices for passengers arriving at Dublin Airport.
One of the notices for passengers arriving at Dublin Airport.
Image: Brian Lawless/PA Wire/PA Images

GOVERNMENT GUIDANCE FOR anyone entering Ireland changed earlier this month, removing the original requirement to self-isolate for 14 days to instead asking people to restrict their movements. 

The decision was a slight shift in the original policy, which asked people to self-isolate for 14 days after entering Ireland

Speaking in the Dáil today, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said that he’s seen “the term quarantine and self-isolate used incorrectly and regularly”.

“The advice is to restrict your movements for 14 days,” he said. 

“Anyone coming into the island, whether for essential or non-essential reasons, should not quarantine, but restrict their movements for 14 days. That’s staying at home and only going out for essential supplies and for exercise.”

Earlier this week, Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn also said that people entering Ireland should “restrict their movements” for that 14-day period. 

“Stay in your hotel or stay in your guesthouse. Now is not the time to be exploring Ireland,” Glynn said.

The HSE advice currently states that – aside from some limited exceptions – anyone entering Ireland must restrict their movements for 14 days.

The advice, on the HSE website, states: “Restricting your movements means staying at home and avoiding contact with other people and social situations as much as possible.”

Currently, people should not:

  • Use public transport
  • Visit others
  • Meet face-to-face with anyone who is at a higher risk from Covid-19
  • Go to the shop unless absolutely necessary.

The guidance does not mention exercise. 


However, the current guidance was not the advice on the HSE website up until 10 July.

Before, the advice was total self-isolation – defined by the HSE as “staying indoors and completely avoiding contact with other people”. 

“You can travel to where you plan to self-isolate. But avoid using public transport if possible. Ask a relative or household member to collect you when you arrive in Ireland. Household members who were not travelling with you do not need to self-isolate or restrict their movements,” the guidance said. 

Announcing the measures on incoming visitors and people arriving into Ireland back in May, Harris used the term “self-isolation”. 

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The Department of Health has been asked for a comment on the change. 

Róisín Shortall, the co-leader of the Social Democrats, said that Varadkar had only added confusion to what the guidance was and called on him to clarify matters. 

“There has been considerable confusion among the travelling public about Government’s mixed messages on quarantining,” she said. 

“In view of this urgent need, the Tánaiste’s comments today serve to further muddy the waters on what should be a crystal clear message.”

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