Covid-19: Travellers arriving in Republic from Britain still expected to isolate for 14 days

Boris Johnson has said 14-day isolation requirement in UK won’t apply to Republic

The Republic is to maintain its policy of asking all people arriving in the jurisdiction, including those arriving from Britain, to go into self-isolation for 14 days.

The UK's Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has said his government is to introduce a 14-day isolation requirement but that it will not apply to people arriving from Ireland.

It has since been reported that an exemption will also apply to people arriving into the UK from France.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said the Irish policy is that all people arriving here from abroad have to self-isolate for 14 days, and that this applies to everyone save those arriving from Northern Ireland, supply chain workers (pilots, hauliers, etc), and those stopping over in an airport before travelling onwards.


People arriving into airports and sea ports in the Republic are being asked to fill in forms that state where they will be staying during isolatation, and are being told that they may be contacted to ensure they are compling with government policy.

The Dept of Health is advising against all non-essential travel overseas. This includes Britain but does not apply to Northern Ireland.

Dr Gabriel Scally, President of the Public Health section of the Royal Society of Medicine, has said there is a "real need" for North/South dialogue about Covid-19 testing and the need for travel restrictions.

Ireland has an opportunity to get down to zero cases, but that cannot happen with new cases coming into the country through airports and ferry ports, he told RTÉ radio’s Today programme.

Ireland and the UK have one of the few borders where there is no restriction and he would be in favour of restrictions, he said.

Dr Scally said that anyone coming onto the island of Ireland should be met by public health officials to be questioned, to have their temperature taken, for a risk assessment to be taken and then, if there are concerns, to be taken into quarantine.

He pointed out that there is no community testing in the UK so it is not known where there are high levels of the virus. As a result, contact tracing was impossible and this was putting the population of both islands at risk.

Dr Scally said he hoped that a programme could be agreed to protect the whole of the island of Ireland.

He described comments by Mr Johnson about the lifting of restrictions in the UK and returning to work as “a confusing message” and said that he had been shocked by them. As a public health official, he thought the Prime Minister’s comments were “pretty dangerous.”

Dara Clear (46), who went into self-isolation for 14 days after returning to Ireland from Australia with his wife, Chiara Browne, and their daughter, Maeve (6), told The Irish Times that he found the experience helpful given the stresses that had been involved in trying to get a flight home.

The family were in the process of moving back to Ireland after 10 years in Australia, when their travel plans were upended by the pandemic.

They eventually got a flight to Dublin from Melbourne, with Qatar Airways. "The first leg of the flight was packed, but the second was not so crazy," he said. They landed in Dublin Airport on April 20th.

“I had visions of meeting officials in protective clothing who’d be taking our temperatures, but there was none of that. We were just given a few brochures.”

They were driven by Dara's brother to a log cabin owned by a friend, in Greenane, Co Wicklow, where they stayed for their 14 days of self-isolation.

“It was easy to self-isolate, because it’s a kind of isolated place. We had a car lined up, but we organised that we wouldn’t collect it for two weeks, so as not to be tempted.”

Friends dropped in groceries. “That made a big difference. The time we spent in isolation was kind of helpful. It let us de-stress after all that had happened. We were just happy to be home.”

Colm Keena

Colm Keena

Colm Keena is an Irish Times journalist. He was previously legal-affairs correspondent and public-affairs correspondent