Ireland lowered to ‘orange’ from ‘red’ under EU travel traffic-light system

Reduced Covid-19 rate changes status but non-essential overseas travel still discouraged

A reduction in coronavirus infections has lowered the State to the safer “orange” classification from “red” under the EU’s traffic-light system for international travel.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control changed Ireland's colour status to "orange" on Thursday after its weekly update on the data on the infection rates across Europe.

Ireland had, like most of the rest of the EU, been at the higher restricted travel status but a reduction in the incidence rate during the Level 5 restrictions has moved it to the lower level.

The Government is still advising against all non-essential overseas travel, regardless of the colour applied to the State under the EU travel system, which is based on the level of cases.


The Department of Foreign Affairs advises Irish people to “exercise a high degree of caution” for travel to the EU colour-coded countries and, generally, to “avoid non-essential travel”.

The colour has no impact on the rules relating to travel into Ireland, only travel from Ireland.

Travellers arriving from “orange” countries should face less stringent measures under the traffic-light system. However, the restrictions will differ from country to country as each state can adopt their own rules under the system for people arriving from other countries.

For in-bound travellers to Ireland, people from “orange” regions do not have to restrict their movements for 14 days if they have a negative Covid-19 test three days taken before their arrival.

From November 29th, passengers from “red” regions can shorten their 14-day quarantine period if they test negative for the virus after five days of arriving into the State.

The tests must be the PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test, the most widely used diagnostic test to detect the virus.

These rules have not been applied by most other countries.

‘Orange’ regions

Ireland joins the Canary Islands, Iceland, Finland and parts of Norway and Greece as the only "orange" regions. Greenland and a region in Finland are the only areas classified as "green."

"Moving to orange is not particularly relevant for in-bound tourism because it affects outbound travellers from Ireland," said Eoghan O'Mara Walsh, chief executive of the Irish Tourism Industry Confederation.

“What we would like to see is some of our source markets in the rest of Europe moving to orange and green.”

A region is classified as “orange” if the 14-day incidence rate is lower than 50 cases per 100,000 but the testing positivity rate is 4 per cent or if the 14-day incidence rate is between 25 and 150 cases per 100,000 and the test positivity rate is below 4 per cent.

Ireland’s incidence rate fell to 120 cases per 100,000 this week with a testing positivity rate of 3.8 per cent, down from 250 cases per 100,000 with a positivity rate of 7 per cent a month ago.

A region is “green” if the 14-day notification rate is lower than 25 cases per 100,000 and the positivity rate is below 4 per cent. Ireland was last at this level in mid-September.

A region is “red” if the 14-day incidence rate is 50 cases per 100,000 or higher and the positivity rate is 4 per cent or higher or if the 14-day notification rate is higher than 150 cases per 100,000.

Regions are classified "grey" if there is insufficient information or if the testing rate is lower than 300 case per 100,000. Northern Ireland is classified as "grey" by the ECDC.

From November 23rd, all travellers arriving into Spain from "red" or "grey" regions must have a negative PCR test, taken no more than 72 hours prior to their arrival.

A caller to RTÉ's Liveline on Thursday, who was travelling to Spain for business, said he saw a group of about 50 people, dressed as if going to a wedding, not wearing masks or social distancing on his busy Ryanair flight and not adhering to flight crew instructions to sit down.

“It was chaos, the whole thing. They wouldn’t wear masks and had brought alcohol on the plane. It was horrendous,” he told the radio programme.

He described it as “like a flight from hell.”

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell is News Editor of The Irish Times