THERE has recently been a further update to the travel restrictions for those entering the Republic of Ireland from Scotland.
Up until recently, providing passengers had received two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine, the only requirement upon entering Ireland was to complete a Passenger Locator Form—a straightforward and quick process—but as of Friday December 5, the process has become a little bit more complicated and also costly for travellers looking to make a visit over the festive period.
As in most countries, the Irish Government are concerned with the recent emergence of the Omicron variant of Covid-19, first discovered in South Africa, and although there are already confirmed cases of the variant in Ireland, government officials are keen to try minimise fresh outbreaks fuelled by international travel.As has been the case for some time with the pandemic, these fresh restrictions are ‘one-way’ in that they affect passengers travelling to Ireland, but not passengers travelling from Ireland back to Scotland, which is some relief to those who have seen the cost of their trips effectively more than double due to the new restrictions.
Fully vaccinated passengers looking to travel to Ireland as of now are required to be in possession of a negative rapid antigen test—lateral flow test —issued within 48 hours prior to arrival in Ireland. Passengers may also choose to take a PCR test within 72 hours of arrival in to Ireland. However, these tend to be a more expensive option.
On the face of it, many may make the mistake of thinking that this is relatively straight forward as many events require a rapid antigen test result for attendance and for a lot of people, regular antigen testing has become routine, but don’t be fooled in to thinking you can just use one of the free NHS issued home test kits and travel!
Whilst essentially being exactly the same process as the home test kits that most of us will be familiar with, the only accepted tests are those issued ‘professionally’ with the sampling process being carried out under supervision. It is this requirement that is likely to add significant cost to trips. With most testing services being offered at around £30, but some are even double that cost and with demand soaring, availability for the more affordable tests is limited.
The Irish Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs has advised UK based travellers to refer to the UK Government list of approved travel test companies for sourcing a test but it is the specifics of the testing requirements for Ireland which are important to remember.
The UK based test provider list can be viewed following this link: https://t.co/g5HpVuTUPY
The minimum specific requirements for testing are as follows:
—Rapid Antigen Lateral Flow Test
—Test must be supervised either in person on via on online (video call) service
—Test must be administered no earlier than 48 hours prior to arrival in Ireland
—Test provider must issue you with a negative test confirmation certificate
Travellers have been advised that they will likely be asked for proof of their test at departing airports in the UK as well as upon entry into Ireland, and the existing Passenger Locator form system is still in place too—requiring passengers to complete an online form prior to travel detailing their travel plans and address(es) whilst in the Emerald Isle.
If passengers do not take an antigen test meeting the requirements above, they are warned that they risk being refused travel to Ireland, and if they do make it as far as immigration at the arrival port, they will likely be refused entry to Ireland and sent back to their original departure location.
The geography of Ireland opens up a ‘grey’ area with those in the North of the country freely able to travel to the Republic without the travel restrictions detailed above, but passengers travelling by ferry in to Larne or Belfast have been warned that proof of tests and passenger locator forms will be required at the departure ports in Cairnryan prior to departure for those intending on visiting the Republic of Ireland.
As always with travel restrictions, updates and further confirmation on specific details are likely, so make sure to keep up to date with all the latest information prior to travel and be aware that restrictions may change whilst you are away.
The latest information can be found via the following page https://www.gov.ie/en/publication /77952-government-advice-on-international-travel/
Paddy Callaghan is the Scottish Region Development Officer for Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann. You can follow him on Twitter: @paddy_box and Instagram: paddy_box
PIC: YOUSEF ALFUHIGI