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Airport COVID testing to replace quarantine in Ireland

written by Hannah Dowling | October 13, 2020
An artist's impression of an Airbus A321XLR in Aer Lingus livery. (Airbus)
An artist’s impression of an Airbus A321XLR in Aer Lingus livery. (Airbus)

The Irish government will adopt the EU ‘traffic light’ travel system and introduce COVID-19 testing at airports, which could see quarantine requirements removed for some arriving passengers.

It comes after both Aer Lingus and Ryanair heavily criticised the Irish government for its strict travel restrictions, with almost all incoming passengers required to undergo a 14-day quarantine period.

Ryanair went so far as to threaten the closures of two of its Irish airport bases unless the government decided to welcome the EU travel management system.

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Under this system, countries and regions are assigned to a colour category, in which travellers coming from “green” countries are allowed to travel without restrictions. 

Other regions, labelled as “amber” or “red” are likely to face some restrictions when entering new countries, including quarantine.

However, plans are also being explored by the government for airport COVID-19 testing that could allow some passengers to avoid quarantine.

The plans were announced by Health Minister Stephen Donnelly on Sunday, however no timeline was provided as to when the government will introduce these testing facilities.

Minister Donnelly said that “any testing capacity needed for travel will be over and above what we already have” and he said plans are currently being worked up in detail at the moment.

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The government continues to look into both standard PCR testing, which could see travellers take a test up to three days before travel, as well as antigen testing, which produces rapid results and could be taken prior to departure.

The International Air Transport Association has spent months pushing for such rapid antigen COVID-19 testing at airports in lieu of quarantine requirements in an effort to reinvigorate the aviation industry amid the pandemic-induced travel slump.

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