Ireland has maintained the most stringent COVID-19 restrictions in Europe for months — but that’s about to change.
Restaurants and pubs have been closed since Christmas Eve. Beginning next week, however, they can resume outdoor service.
And if you’ve been anxiously waiting for restrictions to be lifted so you can travel to Ireland, there’s more good news: Beginning July 19, Ireland will adopt the European Union’s COVID-19 certificate so citizens will be able to travel to the EU — and visitors can also travel from the EU to Ireland. What’s more, people from Britain and the U.S. will be able to travel to Ireland then as well.
“This is an important time for us all,” Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin said during a national address, a BBC article reports. “After the trauma of the last 15 months, we are finally taking definite steps toward enjoying normal times with friends and loved ones again. We are almost back to a point where we can enjoy the ordinary and extraordinary moments in our lives; the excitement and relief is palpable.”
A Phased Reopening
Ireland has maintained the strictest pandemic restrictions in the EU. For instance, Ireland currently advises citizens against non-essential travel, imposes fines on people heading to airports to go on holiday, and enforces a two-week mandatory hotel quarantine for people arriving from more than 50 countries.
That’s now about to change, but only because the rate of COVID-19 cases is now “stable,” Deputy Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said, the BBC article reports. “Only about 2 percent of new cases are people over 65, and less than 2 percent of new cases are health care workers — that shows how effective the vaccines are,” he said.
Here’s what’s happening: As part of Ireland’s Resilience and Recovery: The Path Ahead plan, beginning June 7, outdoor sports matches can take place, restaurants and bars can begin outdoor service, and organized outdoor events can resume with a limited capacity of 100 attendees at most venues.
Then beginning July 5, bars and restaurants can resume indoor service. Also, organized indoor events can resume with a maximum of 50 attendees at most venues, and organized outdoor event capacity shifts to 500 attendees at most venues.
And, of course, the travel restrictions change on July 19.
Good News For Travelers
The best news — at least for travelers and the people of Ireland who depend on tourism — is that the country’s travel restrictions are scheduled to ease in mid-July. That’s when Ireland will adopt the European Union’s COVID-19 certificate to make travel easier.
The proposed rules are a bit complicated, however, depending on where travelers arrive from. Here are the two most common scenarios.
Travelers Entering Ireland From The EU/European Economic Area
Beginning July 19, but subject to the prevailing public health situation, Ireland will accept the EU Digital COVID Certificate (DCC) for travelers whose trip began within the EU/EEA because the DCC will document if a passenger is vaccinated against COVID-19, has recovered from COVID-19, or has a negative test result. Travelers entering Ireland with a DCC will not need to undergo quarantine.
Travelers Entering Ireland From The UK And U.S.
Travelers arriving in Ireland from outside the EU/EEA — including from the UK and U.S. — who have valid proof of COVID-19 vaccination will not need travel-related testing or be required to quarantine. On the other hand, if a passenger does not have valid proof of vaccination, they will need to present evidence of a negative PCR test within 72 hours prior to arrival into the country, self-quarantine, and undergo post-arrival testing.
Know Before You Go
If you are about to begin planning travel to Ireland, there are two important factors to remember. First, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a Level 4: Very High Level of COVID-19 warning for Ireland. The CDC recommends that travelers should avoid all travel to Ireland, at least for now. If you are planning to visit Ireland, the CDC recommends you get fully vaccinated before travel.
Secondly, the government of Ireland is monitoring the COVID-19 situation closely, and plans are always subject to change based on current conditions. More information on Ireland’s Resilience and Recovery: The Path Ahead plan including travel guidelines and restrictions may be found here.