The Irish government has ramped up its efforts to restrict travel to and from Ireland to curb the spread of COVID-19 and has now put several travel restrictions on a statutory footing.
The Irish government’s current advice is that no one, irrespective of nationality, should travel to Ireland unless for essential reasons. As has always been the case, immigration officers at border control can use their discretion to permit or refuse a traveler’s entry to Ireland.
Currently, no Irish visas are being issued (either short-stay or long-stay) unless for essential work. Still, if an individual already holds a valid Irish visa, they will be subject to the same scrutiny on entry to Ireland as any other non-visa-required traveler.
The Requirement of Quarantine and COVID Test
Stephen Donnelly, the Irish Health Minister, recently introduced regulations that make mandatory quarantine and Covid testing before traveling to Ireland a legal requirement. These Regulations apply to everyone traveling to Ireland. The Regulations came into effect on midnight 5 February 2021 and are in place until 5 March 2021 but could be extended.
The Regulations provide that travelers to Ireland must provide evidence that they have been tested for COVID-19. This means that any individuals traveling to Ireland will have to undergo an RT-PCR test (a “COVID test“) no more than 72 hours before traveling to Ireland and must carry documentation confirming a negative result.
Travelers are also obliged to self-quarantine for 14 days when they arrive in Ireland, except where they are an exempted traveler. “Exempted travelers” is very narrowly defined, and most individuals coming to Ireland are unlikely to come within the definition.
A quarantine person may only leave their quarantine location for such period as is strictly necessary to undertake specific activities. These activities include emergency travel to protect a person’s health or welfare, obtain a COVID test, travel to an airport or port to leave the country, and carry out the essential repair, maintenance, construction, or safety assurance critical infrastructure services.