Passengers arriving into Ireland without a negative Covid test could be fined under new rules

Asia's Tech News Daily

Passengers coming into the country without negative Covid tests may face possible fines, according to a Government spokesperson.

The Government is also currently examining possible fines on carriers who do not conduct proper pre-flight checks of passengers to ensure they have their tests.

From midnight on Friday, all passengers coming into the State will need proof of a negative test.

Passengers who are vaccinated or have recovered from Covid-19 will be able to get an antigen test 48 hours prior to arrival or a PCR test 72 hours prior to arrival.

Those who are not fully vaccinated will need a PCR test.

Air and sea carriers will be carrying out pre-flight checks of each passenger.

Upon arrival in Ireland, there will be “spot checks” by border management units and immigration.

Passengers without the correct tests may face possible fines and possible imprisonment, however, Government is currently looking at potential penalties.

These passengers will have to quarantine at home and immediately get a PCR test.

It is understood that imprisonment is unlikely.

“Passengers will be required by law to have a valid, negative/not detected Covid test subject to penalty for non compliance,” said a Government spokesperson.

“If a passenger arrives without a satisfactory test result, they may be subject to possible fines and requirement to isolate at home or their requirement place of stay prior to getting a PCR test and getting a not detected result.”

These measures will be reviewed in two weeks.

Children aged 11 and under will be exempt from the testing requirement needed to enter the State.

The antigen test cannot be self-administered and will have to professionally done. Proof of either test will be requested in Irish airports.

The new travel policy comes as fears continue to grow of the potential impact of the Omicron variant of the virus.

The EU banned travel from the Southern region of Africa after the more transmissible strain of Covid emerged last week.

The Cabinet also discussed giving advice to parents on bringing their children to indoor settings over the coming weeks.

However, the Government will not be putting in place any statutory measures banning children from attending events such as pantos, nativity plays or going to their friend’s birthday parties. Instead, parents will be asked to exercise caution when socialising with their children.

The Cabinet memo does not set out any plans to extend Covid passes to any other areas beyond hospitality.

The Government will review the need for negative tests for all passengers coming into the country in two weeks, according to Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien.

An advisory on mask wearing for primary school children will be issued to schools and parents later today, he said.

Minister O’Brien said that the restrictions for children will not be statutory and that there is “a very stark” and “substantial” increase of disease among younger children.

“In many instances, the parents themselves will make the right judgement for their children. So any announcements that are made will be advisory, particularly in that area,” he said.

Minister O’Brien said that people should “watch” their socialisation and that “they will know themselves best in that space”.

He said there has been a stabilisation in the spread of the virus and that there has been a fall in hospitalisations.

The minister added that the measures Government has taken so far are working in reducing virus spread.

The National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) is set to meet again on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall has told the Dáil that antigen tests currently being used in Ireland are too dear and of doubtful quality, after Health Minister Stephen Donnelly revealed plans to subsidise the tests had been scrapped as retail prices had come down.

Ms Shortall said there were ongoing concerns that some of the antigen test kits were “sub-par” and she said the EU Commission had rejected many of them as not up to standard. She criticised the Government pandemic response as “haphazard and chaotic”.

She challenged the Taoiseach to say whether Government messaging on individual responsibility for combatting Covid 19 now extended to doing quality control on antigen tests. Ms Shortall added that, even at costs of €3 to €4 each, paying for antigen tests was beyond the reach of low-paid workers and people depending on welfare.

Ms Shortall said many people did not live close to a large multiple store where antigen tests were being offered at lower prices.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said accusations of mishandling the pandemic were totally unacceptable given the high vaccination rate and much lower average death rates compared with other countries.

He said that to date €846m had been spent by the State on testing and tracing with 212,000 free PCR lab tests done in the last seven days alone. The Taoiseach said the decision had been taken to give free antigen test kits to schools, third-level colleges and elsewhere, and supermarkets were now offering them at a reasonable price, of about €2 to €3.

Mr Martin said the EU Commission had guidelines on antigen test quality. He accused Ms Shortall of changing her position. Having firstly advocated widespread use of rapid antigen tests, she now appeared to want to slow things down with testing of these tests, he said.

Get ahead of the day with the morning headlines at 7.30am and Fionnán Sheahan’s exclusive take on the day’s news every afternoon, with our free daily newsletter.

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