New Covid-19 testing rules for arrivals into Ireland have officially come into place as 5,156 new cases of the virus were recorded on Sunday.
The Department of Health confirmed the figures as it announced that 503 Covidpatients are in hospital, of which 110 are in intensive care.
There have been almost 11,000 cases reported this weekend after 5,622 cases were confirmed on Saturday.
The new testing rules mean anyone travelling into Ireland via a plane or a ferry is now required to show proof of a negative Covid test.
If fully vaccinated, the negative test can either be a professionally-administered antigen test taken 48 hours before arrival or a PCR test taken 72 hours before arrival. Without vaccination, an antigen test will not be valid.
The rules also apply to travellers from Britain.
The rules were delayed by 48-hours, with Justice Minister Helen McEntee saying the delay was “simply procedural”.
“There just is a little bit longer time needed between departments to finalise these so it’s not about Government flip-flopping or changing direction,” Ms McEntee said.
Any passengers who arrive into Ireland without a negative result will need to home quarantine and take a PCR test within 36 hours of arrival.
Earlier this week, Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary said the new measures were “Nphet/Government gobbledygook”, describing them as “ineffective and inappropriate”.
“When EU passengers have, for the last 6 months, been travelling safely with the benefit of the EU [Digital Covid Cert] or negative PCRs, what medical or health benefit is to be derived by asking these passengers to now produce negative antigen tests, when both Nphet and the [Chief Medical Officer] have been opposed to antigen tests for 18 months?”
On top of the new travel measures, the Government announced a raft of new restrictions on Friday night.
It is in response to the rise of the Omicron variant. So far one case of the new variant has been confirmed here.
The new restrictions will see the closure of nightclubs and the return of strict social distancing in bars and restaurants from December 7.
There will be a return to table service in bars with a 1m distance between groups and a maximum of six adults per table.
For the entertainment sector and sporting events, there will be a maximum of 50% capacity and events must be fully seated.