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15 Feb 2021

COVID-19 (coronavirus)

Unprecedented efforts are under way to limit the spread of COVID-19 on the island of Ireland. Tourism Ireland continues to monitor the situation closely.

There is an Irish Government Advisory in operation against all non-essential international travel. The Irish Government has introduced additional, short-term restrictions on international travel. Visa-free travel to Ireland for nationals of South Africa and all countries in South America has been suspended. The Department of Justice has temporarily ceased accepting new visa/preclearance applications globally (with limited exemptions).

From 4 February 2021, a legal requirement to quarantine has been introduced for all passengers arriving in Ireland. Only very limited categories of passengers can be exempt from this legal requirement.

Twenty countries have been designated as “Category 2 Countries” by the Department of Health:  Angola, Austria, Botswana, Brazil, Burundi, Cape Verde, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Republic of South Africa, Rwanda, Seychelles, Tanzania, United Arab Emirates, Zambia and Zimbabwe. All passengers arriving in Ireland from these countries must now complete a full mandatory 14-day period of self-quarantine, if they have been in any of these states in the previous 14 days, even if they receive a negative RT-PCR test result after arriving in the State. For passengers from all other countries, the quarantine period can finish earlier, if the passenger obtains a negative result of a RT-PCR test taken no less than 5 days after arrival in the State.

All passengers arriving in Ireland are required to complete a COVID-19 Passenger Locator Form. All passengers are also required to have a negative/‘not detected’ result from a pre-departure COVID-19 RT-PCR test (only this kind of test is acceptable), taken within 72 hours prior to arrival in Ireland. Passengers will be asked to present evidence of their negative/‘not detected’ result before boarding their airplane or ferry; and will be required to produce this evidence to immigration officers on arrival at points of entry to the State. Children aged six and under are exempt from this requirement.

If a citizen has a genuine humanitarian emergency requiring urgent travel, and might not be able to obtain the result of a pre-departure RT-PCR test in time, they should contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate immediately for advice and consular assistance before commencing their journey.

Quarantine requirements: A legal requirement to quarantine has been introduced for all arrivals, from 4 February. The 14-day quarantine period must be undertaken at the address specified on the Passenger Locator Form. This also applies to passengers travelling from another country to Ireland, who arrive via Northern Ireland. Persons who started their journey in Category 2 Countries must complete the full 14 days of quarantine, regardless of whether a negative test result has been received. There are very limited exemptions to mandatory quarantine.

The regulations for entering the UK, including Northern Ireland, mean that you must self-isolate for 10 days if you return to Northern Ireland from a country outside the Common Travel Area (CTA) unless you are travelling from, or transiting through, a low to medium risk country that is exempt. You must also provide your journey details before you travel by completing a UK passenger locator form (PLF).

If you arrive in Northern Ireland having travelled through the Republic of Ireland after having been outside of the CTA, you must make sure you complete a UK passenger locator form. This is in addition to travel information you may be required to provide to travel authorities in the Republic of Ireland

If you are coming to Northern Ireland and have been in a country which is not exempt from travel restrictions and is not part of the CTA in the previous 10 days, then you must complete the full 10 day self-isolation period. More information can be found here.

If you’re concerned about how the situation will affect your travel plans, we recommend that you check with your airline, tour operator, cruise line or transport and accommodation providers.

We suggest that tourism businesses on the island of Ireland looking for information about coronavirus and its impact on travel go to the relevant sections on the websites of Fáilte Ireland and Tourism NI. Up-to-date information and guidance on COVID-19 in Northern Ireland can be found on the website of the official Public Health Agency Northern Ireland. Information and support in the Republic of Ireland can be found on the website of the Health Service Executive. For the latest travel advice, please visit the website of the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade