Ireland lifts additional restrictions on arrivals from southern African nations

Ireland lifts additional restrictions on arrivals from southern African nations

THE GOVERNMENT has reduced restrictions on arrivals into the country from seven southern African states where the omicron variant of Covid-19 was first detected.

Since 29 November 2021, international arrivals to Ireland with a travel history in one of seven high-risk countries – Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe – had been required to present a negative pre-departure COVID-19 test prior to arrival in Ireland and to complete post arrival testing and home quarantine.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has now signed regulations amending the requirements of those arriving and from today the enhanced restrictions on persons arriving from the seven high-risk ‘scheduled States’ will be lifted.

At the time the enhanced restrictions were introduced, the Minister told RTÉ's Six-One news the government were "acting in a precautionary manner in line with the UK and the rest of Europe."

"All passengers arriving from overseas will now be subject to the same requirements for travel to Ireland," a statement from the Department of Health said. "Overseas passengers to Ireland are required to show proof of a negative ('not detected') COVID-19 test result."

A passenger with proof of vaccination or recovery can show either a negative PCR test result taken within 72 hours prior to arrival, or a negative antigen test result taken within 48 hours prior to arrival.

Passengers without proof of vaccination or recovery must show a negative PCR test result taken within 72 hours of arrival.

Proof of a negative ('not detected') COVID-19 test result will be checked pre-departure and may be subject to checks on arrival.

Passengers to Ireland who arrive without a negative ('not detected') COVID-19 test result are required to home quarantine and take a PCR test within 36 hours of arrival. A subsequent negative ('not detected') test result can enable the passenger to exit home quarantine. If no PCR test is taken the passenger must remain in home quarantine for 10 days after arrival.

All arrivals are also being advised to take daily antigen tests for five days, and all measures will be kept under review, the department said.

The imposition of restrictions drew criticism from leaders in southern Africa, with the World Health Organisation at the time urging countries around the world not to impose flight bans on southern African nations due to concerns over the new omicron variant.

WHO's regional director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, called on countries to follow science and international health regulations in order to avoid using travel restrictions.

"Travel restrictions may play a role in slightly reducing the spread of COVID-19 but place a heavy burden on lives and livelihoods," Moeti said in a statement.

"If restrictions are implemented, they should not be unnecessarily invasive or intrusive, and should be scientifically based, according to the International Health Regulations, which is a legally binding instrument of international law recognized by over 190 nations."