Today has been hailed as a “day of hope” by the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) as tight restrictions on international travel are eased.
IAA head of corporate affairs , Paul Brandon, said he is hopeful that the new European Union-wide system will herald an end to the “stop/start” restrictions that have hamstrung the industry over the last 16 months. “Now the industry can start to rebuild again,” he said.
Some 22,500 people are expected to pass through Dublin Airport on Monday, a 50 per cent climb on the same day last week. However, Mr Brandon noted the figure is a small shadow of the 116,163 passengers who travelled through the Dublin terminals on July 19th, 2019.
Dublin Airport (DAA) has recommended passengers arrive at their terminal at least 90 minutes before their flight, as they will have to undergo additional documentation checks.
“The physical journey through the airport hasn’t changed, but people will need to allow extra time for the extra procedures in place,” he explained, adding that airline staff will be checking all documentation is in order.
More than 130 flights are scheduled to land at Dublin airport on Monday, with a Ryanair flight from Vilnius in Lithuania the first to land under the new rules at 12.15am.
From midnight the European Union’s digital Covid certificate replaced the need for a negative test for any arrivals from inside the EU, Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. The EU cert is issued to residents who are fully vaccinated, have proof of a negative PCR test, or who have recently recovered from the virus.
Travellers from elsewhere, including Britain, will need to present valid proof of vaccination, recovery from the virus in the past 180 days, or evidence of a negative PCR test.
On Friday, the Department of Health confirmed that children aged of 12 to 17 will be required to present a negative PCR test, unless they have proof of vaccination or Covid-19 recovery.
However, children will not need to quarantine upon arrival if accompanied by an adult who has been vaccinated or has proof of Covid-19 recovery. All travellers are still mandated to complete a passenger locator form.
Pat Dawson, chief executive of the Irish Travel Agents Association, said members have seen an uptick in holiday bookings but a huge increase in inquires from confused travellers.
“There is not the usual avalanche we would usually see in summer… There has been confusion, particularly around family bookings,” he said.
Confusion also abounded among those looking to travel by boat from Britain, according to Simon Palmer, spokesman for Stenaline ferries.
“It wasn’t until 5.30pm on Friday that the Irish Government said they would allow kids to enter without having to enter quarantine. Everybody has been so confused,” he said.
Sail bookings are at about a quarter of pre-pandemic levels, signalling a “slow start but big increase on the very low levels we had been seeing”, Mr Palmer said. “Once people see the new rules in action demand should pick up… It is a late start to the summer but a welcome one.”
Meanwhile, Minister of State for Transport Hildegarde Naughton is reminding drivers travelling abroad that they can apply for a “letter of entitlement” that will prove the validity of a driving licence with an extended expiry date due to Covid-19. EU countries will recognise a driving licence with extended validity, but drivers should still check with car hire companies in advance of travel if a driver statement is required, Ms Naughton said.
A driver statement is available free of charge from the National Driver Licence Service for people looking to drive outside the EU, or where car hire companies state it is a requirement.