Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Questions (94)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

94. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Transport the number of passengers who have arrived here since 9 January 2021 via sea and air whose journeys originated in the UK or South Africa; his plans to expand on advisories for passengers arriving here from states other than those mentioned; and his plans regarding inbound travel via sea and air to Ireland over the St. Patrick's Day period. [2125/21]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

The Government continues to advise against non-essential international travel and that essential travel is undertaken with due regard to public health safety measures.

In the case of Great Britain and South Africa, on the 21st December flight bans were introduced for the first time in response to the emergence of a new strain of COVID 19. This temporary 'flight ban' on flights from the UK and South Africa ended 9 of January. Since then, passengers originating from Great Britain or South Africa and arriving into Ireland have been required to have evidence of a negative or “not detected” result of a Covid-19 RT-PCR test obtained within 72 hours of arrival into Ireland.

As part of these new requirements, carriers have been requested to ensure that those passengers originating from Great Britain or South Africa travelling to Ireland are made of aware of this requirement and that they are informed they may be prosecuted and fined if they travel to Ireland without the required evidence.

Having considered the deteriorating epidemiological situation and the concern at the implications of increased transmissibility of SARS-CoV-2 via the emergence of new variants, the Government has announced the extension of the requirement for evidence of a pre-departure negative/not detected RT-PCR tests to passenger arrivals from all countries since Saturday 16th January 2021, unless they are an "exempt traveller". The test must be taken within 72 hours prior to arrival. As part of the new requirements passengers will be asked to present evidence of their negative/‘not detected’ result before boarding, unless they are claiming an exemption, and will be denied boarding if they cannot produce such evidence.

Checks will be made by the Border Management Unit at Dublin Airport and by An Garda Síochána at other points of entry to the State.

Passengers who arrive in an Irish Airport or Sea Port without the required evidence will commit an offence and may be subject to prosecution, punishable by a fine not exceeding €2,500 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or both.

Exemptions include international transport workers -hauliers, pilots and aviation crew, masters and maritime crew, and members of An Garda Síochána in the course of their duties, Children age six and under.

In line with the EU Traffic Light system on arrival, passengers from ECDC red/grey locations and other locations will be advised to restrict their movements for 14 days, but may release themselves from the advice to restrict their movements if they have a second negative result from a RT-PCR test taken no less than 5 days post arrival. Arrivals from green and orange countries (as defined by the EU traffic light system) will not be advised to restrict their movements on arrival but are advised to adhere to the local public health guidance.

Passengers who arrive from Great Britain, South Africa or any country in South America are advised to self-isolate for a period of 14 days following their arrival into Ireland. A post-arrival test for these passengers would not apply as per other red/grey regions and those passengers are advised to complete the entire 14 day period of self-isolation.

The Statistics gather weekly by my Department from the State Airports only take account of the last point of the Departure prior to arrival, as that is the only information that the Airports would receive. This level of information is not readily available for arrivals at sea ports.

However, my Department has received the following information on request from the Department of Health in relation to passengers who completed a Passenger Locator form and signified their journey had originated in Great Britain or South Africa:

Date of Arrival

Electronic PLFs

Valid Paper PLFs

Total Number of completed PLF’s

09/01/2021

681

55

736

10/01/2021

1,023

85

1168

11/01/2021

392

36

428

The Government is keeping all measures relating to international travel under review.