Ireland plans to end a ban on travel to the country from Britain on Jan. 6 and replace it with stricter COVID-19 testing measures as it seeks to stop the spread of a highly infectious new variant of the virus, Foreign Minister Simon Coveney was quoted as saying on Friday.
Ireland banned passenger flights and ferries on Dec. 21. Some 30,000 people had travelled to Ireland from Britain in the previous two weeks, during which time the new variant was spreading rapidly in parts of Britain.
Passengers flying on non-essential business from Britain after Jan. 6 will need to produce a negative test taken three days before their flight, Coveney told the Irish Independent newspaper.
They will also be asked to restrict their movements for at least five days from their arrival and can move freely only if they then receive a second negative test.
“We’re planning to end the travel ban with the UK on January 6 but replace it with a more restrictive set of travel regulations between Britain and Ireland,” he said.
“We are anxious to move away from a travel ban, which we don’t think is realistic and there does need to be travel facilitated between Britain and Ireland for lots of reasons.”
COVID-19 is spreading rapidly again in Ireland and health officials have said that it has found seven cases of the new variant from 77 positive tests that subsequently underwent genomic sequencing.