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Starting today, travelers to Ireland, regardless of their origin, will be allowed to exit quarantine early if they pass a COVID-19 PCR test performed at least five days after their arrival. Previously, foreigners coming from high-risk regions were required to restrict their movements for a full 14 days from their entry into Ireland.
The test-to-release provision comes as part of Ireland's ongoing adaptation of its travel restrictions to better align with the European Union's (E.U.) 'traffic light' system for the regulation of international travel amid the pandemic.
While it's only countries in the European Economic Area (EEA) that get classified under the current 'traffic light' model, according to their epidemiological conditions, countries that fall outside of that region are blanketly considered to be 'red', and travelers from those areas are subject to the two-week quarantine or fifth-day testing rule.
Travelers who plan to take advantage of the testing provision are being asked to schedule their test in advance of arriving in Ireland, according to TheJournal.ie.
It's worth noting that all inbound passengers from overseas are still required to submit a COVID-19 Passenger Locator Form upon arrival.
At Dublin Airport, two private companies, Randox and RocDoc, are now operating testing facilities that offer customers the option of pre-booked appointments, walk-in testing or drive-thru testing. The two providers are currently capable of administering 12,000 tests per day and will soon expand their daily testing capacity to 15,000.
Travelers are welcome to take their fifth-day tests with other providers, but the government insists that people wait to ensure they receive negative results before exiting quarantine.
None of these changes imply that the Emerald Isle is encouraging international travel amid the pandemic. During a briefing held on November 27, Tánaiste (Ireland's Deputy Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar explained, "there is no ban on international travel or people coming home," to Ireland, but the government is asking people not to come if their purposes are non-essential.
Laurie Baratti is a San Diego-based journalist whose work has previously appeared in publications like TravelAge West, SPACE,...
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