Only ‘gold-standard’ Covid test will result in restriction-free travel around Ireland

Cabinet agrees range of measures for new arrivals under EU traffic light system

A Healthcare worker performs a Covid-19 swab test. Photograph: EPA/Angelo Carconi

Travellers have been warned that only a "gold-standard" PCR test result will be accepted for those who wish to move around Ireland without restrictions upon their arrival.

The Cabinet has agreed a new range of measures under the EU traffic light system which will allow tourists and travellers to move around the country without the need to stick to strict Covid-19 movement restrictions.

Under the system there will be green regions, orange regions, red regions and grey regions across the EU.

This map will be updated every Thursday based on EU epidemiological data and the changes will be applied in Ireland the following Monday.


People arriving from EU green regions will not be required to restrict their movements.

Arrivals from orange regions will also not be required to restrict their movements as long as they have a negative or not-detected result from a Covid-19 test which was taken no more than three days before departure.

From midnight on November 29th, arrivals from an EU red region will also not be expected to restrict their movements as long as they have a negative Covid-19 test taken a minimum of five days after arrival in Ireland.

The same will apply for arrivals from orange regions who did not take a pre-departure test.

Arrivals from third countries, such as the United States, will be treated on the same basis as arrivals from red regions. Arrivals from Great Britain will be subject to the same traffic light categorisation and restrictions that apply for other EU locations.

The Government has warned, however, that only so-called gold standard PCR tests will be accepted and that these will not be provided through the public health system.

“There are a number of Covid-19 testing technologies currently available or emerging on the commercial market. However, subject to the ongoing review of testing by Nphet and Government, a negative result from a Covid-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test is the only test result that means the passenger is not expected to follow advice to restrict movements,” a Government statement said.

Furthermore, travellers using Dublin Airport will be able to be tested pre-flight for coronavirus after the Cabinet approved a planning exemption for a privately run testing facility at the airport.


Ministers were also briefed on ongoing EU efforts to secure a coronavirus vaccine.

Ireland is currently involved in an EU procurement effort being operated by the European Commission. Ministers were told that the allocation of access to vaccine doses between EU member states will be decided according to a set population distribution.

A high level vaccine taskforce is being established but the Cabinet has been warned that “complex logistical challenges have been identified”.

These are in relation to issues such as “delivery from the European continent of products with very demanding storage and transport requirements, the need to plan timely delivery to the locations of immunisation provision to patients and the need to ensure that waste is avoided”.

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell is News Editor of The Irish Times