Q&A: What is going on with the new Covid-19 travel restrictions?

New measures to include a ban on holiday visas from a number of countries
Q&A: What is going on with the new Covid-19 travel restrictions?

An empty check in area at Cork Airport. Picture: Jim Coughlan

The Government is expected to sign off on a suite of new travel restrictions today.

Here we answer some of the key questions.

What are the new travel restrictions?

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said he wants to make non-essential travel as awkward as possible in a bid to cut down on the numbers travelling here and to stop new variants of the virus entering the country.

New measures, expected to be signed off on Tuesday, include a ban on holiday visas from a number of countries.

Garda checkpoints are to be set up outside airports and those found to be travelling for non-essential purposes will be fined and told to return home.

So is hotel quarantining being introduced?

Yes and no. The Government has been slow to follow countries like Australia and New Zealand in introducing full mandatory quarantining.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar last week claimed that subjecting all travellers to 14 days of quarantine would be “disproportionate”.

However, it is now expected that some groups will be obliged to quarantine in specific hotels after arriving to Ireland.

This will include anyone who cannot show that they received a Covid-negative PCR test result in the previous 72 hours.

Those entering the country from Covid hotspots, such as South Africa, where new more transmissible variants are present will also have to quarantine.

What about essential travel?

Some amount of travel will always be necessary and the Government has said ports and airports will remain open.

However, it is expected that the passenger location form will be changed with more questions asked and follow-up measures will be strengthened to ensure people restrict their movements.

Antigen testing on motorway services areas close to Dublin Port and Rosslare for hauliers travelling to France will be introduced from Thursday.

What about the border?

More garda checkpoints are to be rolled out in border areas to stop any unessential travel in the region.

Transport Minister Eamon Ryan said the same 5km rules will apply along the border as at airports, meaning people will be sanctioned and fined if they are found outside their five kilometre distance.

However, Mr Ryan conceded that the gardaí would not have the power to turn people back if they are travelling more than 5km and would rely on co-operation.

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