Keeping in line with the new European travel measures, Ireland has updated its international travel Policies and introduced the latest Irish traffic light travel system. Ireland is part of the European Union “traffic-light” system for international travel which refers to regions within countries rather than individual countries. Within the ‘traffic lights’ system regions across the European Union, European Economic Area the United Kingdom are categorised as grey, red, orange or green, based on the various risk levels associated with COVID-19 recorded.
This week, the Minister of State for European Affairs Thomas Byrne stated that travelling into Ireland from red regions would no longer be restricted after 29th November. Individuals arriving into Ireland from the red regions will not be required to restrict their movement once they pass a Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) Covid-19 test within five days following their arrival.
Furthermore, People arriving from EU green regions will not be required to limit their movements. Arrivals from orange regions will also be allowed to freely move around as long as they have a negative or not-detected result from a Covid-19 test which was taken no more than three days prior to their arrival.
Arrivals from third countries, such as Isreal, South Korea and the United States, will also be subject to the same restriction as arrivals from red regions. Arrivals from Great Britain will be subject to identical traffic light categorisation and restrictions that apply for other EU locations.
A map showing the designation of each region has been published and will be updated every Thursday based on EU epidemiological data and the changes will be applied in Ireland the following Monday.
Using the three-stage colour system to indicate the level of risk in each area the level of spread will be determined by various factors including the 14-day incidence per 100,000 population and the number of positive tests conducted. Countries or regions will be marked green if the 14-day incidence rates of Covid-19 is below 25 people per 100,000 and the positivity rate for the disease in the area is below 4 per cent.
Regions that record a 14-day incidence rate of below 50 people per 100,000, but a positivity rate of more than 4 per cent will be marked Orange. Countries or Regions will be marked red if the recorded 14-day incidence rate is above 150 per 100,000, and where the Covid positive test rate exceeding 4 per cent and grey if the data presents insufficient information or if the testing rate is lower than 300 cases per 100 000.
This indication is noteworthy because a positivity rate of that magnitude would conclusively depict the widespread transmission of the disease in the community.
COVID testing at Dublin airports
The Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan has said that Covid-19 testing and prevention measures that would allow people to travel to and from the Irish airports over the holidays should be in place by 1st of December. He stated that while he is not aware how much this will cost, but it is estimated that the private sector could charge anywhere between €150 and €200 for testing.
He further added that Health Service Executive (HSE) resources will not be used for these tests and travellers will have to cover the cost themselves.
A Planning exemption will be given to Dublin Airport, which wants to establish a test centre. Other airports including Cork and Shannon, have also expressed interest in setting up similar test centres on their premises.
A statement from the Department of Transport stated that: “further intensive work” regarding testing and travelling was underway to develop a strategy for travellers arriving from the red zone and that these plans would be considered by the Government in the coming week.
With Christmas inching closer could the new travel system act as a ray of hope for those waiting to either return home or move to the Emerald Isle?