THE Government has announced the introduction of mandatory quarantine for passengers who arrive in Ireland without a negative PCR test, in what one Cork travel agent described as a “positive move”.
In addition, those who travel from South Africa and Brazil, where a new variant of the virus has been discovered, will face mandatory quarantine measures.
In other cases, people entering the country will be required to quarantine at home.
“These regulations will apply to anyone who travels into Ireland, from an airport or port on the island, including ports and airports in Northern Ireland,” Taoiseach Micheál Martin said.
Visa-free short-term travel from South Africa and South America is also suspended until at least March 5 and additional gardaí will be deployed to ports and airports.
Paul Dawson, sales manager at Dawson Travel, welcomed the announcement and noted the importance of a negative test for each individual entering the country.
“We want obviously to open it up in a safe way and a safe manner, we want to open up the skies again and allow people to move around, particularly around Europe.
“But, for that to happen, we know testing is a priority,” he said.
Mr Dawson described the introduction of mandatory quarantine for those without a negative PCR test as “a positive move”.
However, he said he had hoped it would be introduced earlier along with the requirement for a negative test.
“It’s now at a stage where you can’t even leave your 5km boundary, so if this had been put in place like many other countries had done months and months ago, we might have seen fewer reported cases arriving into the country. Certainly we would have a lot say, for travel and travel options for the Irish public at the moment.”
Mr Dawson said that currently, his company are not expecting travel to resume before the end of May. “We are turning away inquires for bookings for anyone that wants to travel in the first quarter of the year and we’re reviewing anything after that,” he said.
Speaking at the announcement, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said: “When it comes to March and April, when we fervently hope cases will be very low again, that’s where the issue of international travel becomes all the more important. If we do as a society succeed in getting cases very low again, we want to make sure that we do everything reasonable to stop cases coming back up again. That’s very much the journey that we begin today.”