Michael Staines
Michael Staines

07.41 22 Oct 2020


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The new ‘traffic light’ system for international travel will come into force in Ireland from Sunday November 8th.

Cabinet rubber-stamped the decision to join the EU system on Tuesday.

The system will see all EU states designated green, orange or red based on criteria compiled by the European Centre for Disease Control.

As of midnight last night, passengers from green list countries must follow Level Five coronavirus restrictions on arriving in Ireland; however, they no longer have to quarantine.

People from orange and red countries still have to restrict their movements for two weeks.

Traffic light

However, the Minister of State for International Transport Hildegarde Naughton last night confirmed that, from November 8th, passengers from orange regions will be able to avoid the restriction by undergoing a validated pre-departure test for the virus.

A similar system is eventually expected to be rolled for passengers from red list countries.

Minister Naughton said it was important the system was in place by November to offer certainty to anyone considering flying home for the Christmas holidays.

“From midnight tonight, there will be no restrictions for travellers from a green list country travelling to Ireland,” she said.

“Many countries across Europe, including ourselves, are on a red list. For orange and red list countries, we are asking people to restrict their movements for 14 days, as is currently the case for all travellers.

“For orange list countries, there will be an exemption from restricting movements if the person carries out a validated pre-departure test.”

International travel map from the European Centre for Disease Control Traffic light' system green list International travel map published by the European Centre for Disease Control on Friday October 16th. Image: ECDC

The system is based on a data published by the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) every Friday.

Countries will be designated green, orange or red depending on three criteria:

  • The number of new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people over a 14-day period.
  • The positivity rate of the COVID-19 tests carried out in the past week.
  • The number of COVID-19 tests carried out per 100,000 people.

Under the plan, regions will be designated green if they have a 14-day rate below 25 and a positivity rate below 4%.

Regions with a 14-day below 50 will be designated orange provided their positivity rate is above 4%; however, they can have a 14-day rate as high as 150 if their positivity rate is less than 4%.

All other regions will be designated red.

International travel

Minister Naughton said a “high-level technical group” would be monitoring the system and updating it every two weeks.

She said the group would be examining different testing regimes  to see which ones could be used to allow people into the country without restricting their movements.

She noted that the current PCR test is “the gold standard” and any other form of testing will need to be validated before it is accepted.


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