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Passengers from Britain must give proof of negative test

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Minister Simon Coveney

Minister Simon Coveney

Minister Simon Coveney

All non-essential passengers flying from Britain will have to produce negative Covid-19 tests taken three days before arriving in Ireland.

The ban on flights from Britain is set to end on January 6 and will be replaced by new regulations that will see people fined on the spot for failing to produce a negative laboratory coronavirus test on arrival.

People arriving will still also be asked to restrict their movements for at least five days.

If they receive a negative test after five days, they can move under the existing guidelines.

The new rules are aimed at allowing flights within the Common Travel Area while reducing the risk of the English strain of the virus spreading further in Ireland.

The rules come against a backdrop of increasing concern over the rapid spread of the virus during the Christmas period, which resulted in the Government imposing a third national lockdown.

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney said the new rules will make Britain a "red-plus" country among the EU's international travel zones.

"We're planning to end the travel ban with the UK on January 6 and replace it with a more restrictive set of travel regulations between Britain and Ireland," Mr Coveney said.

"We are anxious to move away from a travel ban, which we don't think is realistic, and there does need to be travel facilitated between Britain and Ireland for lots of reasons."

Punishable

Mr Coveney said he believes other EU countries will follow suit in requiring passengers on flights from Britain to produce negative laboratory test results.

He said he hopes the rules will be in place when the ban on travel ends on January 6.

The new regulations are being drafted across five government departments and are expected to be punishable by on-the-spot fines.

At present, there are no plans to introduce travel restrictions on people arriving from South Africa, where another new strain of the virus has emerged.

There are very few, if any, direct flights between Dublin and South Africa, and there is currently no significant air travel between passengers from both countries.

In a letter to the Government this week, Nphet said people affected by the South African strain have a "higher concentration of the virus in the upper respiratory tract", which may make it more transmissible. Nphet said tests were continuing in relation to the effect the vaccine will have on this strain.

It said the English strain can spread more quickly, but there is no evidence it causes more severe disease.

"Experts are confident coronavirus vaccines will block the new variant, although that has to be confirmed by laboratory experiments that are now under way," Nphet said.


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