THE Government has announced the extension of the requirement for a pre-departure negative Covid tests to passenger arrivals from all countries from Saturday. The test must be taken within 72 hours prior to arrival.
Arrivals from Great Britain and South Africa will continue to require a negative test and must continue to isolate for 14 days, even if they take a second test after arrival.
Arrivals from red and grey list countries and all other locations outside of Europe, must continue to restrict their movements for 14 days. However, this may be lifted on receipt of a negative/not detected result of a second test taken no less than five days after arrival.
Arrivals from green and orange countries will not be required to restrict their movements on arrival but must adhere to the local public health guidance.
Checks will be made by the Border Management Unit at Dublin Airport and by An Garda Síochána at other points of entry.
Exemptions will be limited to those currently exempt from this requirement, which are international transport workers, including hauliers, pilots and aviation crew, masters and maritime crew, and members of An Garda Síochána in the course of their duties. Children under six will also be exempt.
The director of a Cork travel agency had called for stricter restrictions for all passengers travelling in and out of the country.
Since Saturday last, passengers originating from Britain and South Africa must provide evidence of a negative or not detected result for Covid-19 within 72 hours of departure, due to concerns relating to new strains of the virus from those countries.
President of the Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA) and Managing Director of Shandon Travel, Michael Doorley, said that "there should be a requirement for a negative test to be presented if you’re departing the country too".
"Imagine the effect that would have if you were travelling to wherever and you knew that everybody on the aircraft all had a negative test, you'd travel very safely,” he said.
Maybe we should have acted like New Zealand a year ago, and close everything and don't let anybody in. New Zealand is the prime example of taking extreme action and having a positive result from it.
Sinn Féin TD Donnchadh O'Laoghaire said that nobody should be travelling to the island with the exception of absolutely essential reasons as long as the pandemic lasts.
“For those that do arrive for essential purposes, much stricter protocols are needed to prevent the spread of Covid-19," he said.
He said that testing post-arrival should also become mandatory and that the Government has been “behind the curve” on the issue since the beginning of the pandemic.
“The fact that our self-isolation and quarantine regime is essentially voluntary and entirely unmonitored is completely unacceptable. We need a system that is mandatory and enforced, and this should include fines for those who flout the self-isolation rules,” he said.
Senior lecturer in biochemistry at University College Cork (UCC), Dr Anne Moore, said that requiring all passengers to present a negative PCR test is “something that we should have done a long time ago” but questioned how it would be implemented.
“It’s one thing about having a rule, and another implementing it. It would be difficult trying to implement that with resources so stretched. Who is going to check the PCRs because public health is already 100% dedicated to containing what's in the community so where are we going to get those people from to do that?,” she said.