The Cabinet has agreed that unvaccinated travellers from Britain must quarantine for 10 days upon arrival in Ireland.
The Irish Times reports that regulations to give effect to the new plans will now be drafted, amid concern over the spread of the Delta variant.
Under the change, travellers who are not fully vaccinated must take a second PCR test at the 10-day mark. Currently, travellers from Britain must self-quarantine at home but can move freely once they obtain a negative Covid-19 test no less than five days after arrival.
Cabinet ministers have been warned that rolling out the State’s travel restrictions “remains challenging” and they have been told to not talk about it publicly until matters are resolved, according to the Irish Examiner.
According to the Cabinet memorandum presented to ministers on Tuesday, public commentary on new restrictions on travel from Britain should be avoided until “we engage with stakeholders” as the system will “require the cooperation of private operators”.
The Delta variant of the coronavirus, which was first identified in India, is now the dominant strain in Britain and is proving to be 60 per cent more transmissible than the previously dominant Alpha strain.
Irish variant cases
Speaking before Cabinet met, Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan said genome testing in Ireland had shown “small numbers” of the variant “more in the eastern half, than on the west” of the country.
He said any tightening of travel restrictions between the UK and Ireland was expected to last for just a few weeks to stave back the spread of the Delta variant, as vaccines roll out in the Republic.
Plans to further relax restrictions on essential air travel only on July 19th — including from the UK — are expected to go ahead “so people can look forward to that”, Mr Ryan told RTÉ radio.
“But in the interim we still want to be cautious,” he added.
Earlier, Mr Ryan told Newstalk radio that the Government is monitoring the spread of the Delta variant ahead of the next easing of restrictions in July.
“There is the Delta variant in our country, and that’s one of the reasons I suppose we’re changing the rules of travel from the UK to try and hold it back as long as possible and get as many vaccines out,” he said.
“So this is something that we’ll keep reviewing, but I think at the moment, the kind of staged [reopening] approach one we’ve been going through has been the correct one, it’s working well.”
Unlike previous reopening steps, plans for July 5th have a heavy focus on indoor activity.
Meanwhile, visa-free travel between Ireland and 12 countries with variants of concern will be restored on Tuesday.
Minister for Justice Heather Humphreys was set to inform Cabinet she proposes to lift emergency visa requirements for Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, South Africa, Suriname and Uruguay.
It comes after one new country was added to the Republic’s mandatory hotel quarantine list over the weekend, while travellers from Britain have been urged to “strictly adhere” to home quarantine amid the spread of the variant.