Unlocking the World

Travel to Ireland during Covid-19: What you need to know before you go

CNN StaffUpdated 22nd September 2021
Cliffs of Moher (Clare): Perhaps Ireland's most famous attraction, the 214-meter-tall Cliffs of Moher attract around a million visitors each year. It's on the southwest edge of the Burren region.
(CNN) — If you're planning to travel to Ireland, here's what you'll need to know and expect if you want to visit during the Covid-19 pandemic

The basics

Ireland has done better than its closest neighbors in terms of case numbers and deaths, which are among the lowest in Europe -- but that's thanks to one of Europe's harshest lockdowns throughout the pandemic.
Alongside its EU counterparts, it has now reopened to visitors. Arrivals are allowed from any country, though some must quarantine on arrival.
However, it's not all good news -- on August 3, the CDC advised against all travel to Ireland, amid rising infection rates.
Note that Northern Ireland is part of the UK and operates under separate Covid restrictions, which you can read about in our UK guide.

What's on offer

The wild coasts of Cork and Kerry, the rugged beauty of Connemara and Donegal and the cultural hub of Dublin. Ireland has long held travelers' imaginations captive, with tales of its history, its great literature and Celtic myths an endless source of fascination.
Sure, you can enjoy a few pints in one of its classic pubs, but with so much to explore, Ireland is as much a place to indulge in the great outdoors as it is to enjoy the craic.

Who can go

Since July 19, EU residents have been able to enter Ireland, using the EU Digital Covid Certificate scheme. Vaccinated or recovered travelers from all other countries, other than those from "designated states" with high case numbers, can enter quarantine-free. See below for restrictions.
Those from "designated states" -- of which there are currently 30, including Argentina, India and Russia -- must quarantine on arrival, for a minimum of five days, depending on vaccination status.
However, on August 3, the CDC listed Ireland as a level 4 "very high" destination, meaning that US citizens are advised not travel, regardless of infection rates.

What are the restrictions?

All arrivals to Ireland must complete a Passenger Locator Form before travel.
They must also produce either proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of arrival, written in English or Irish. Vaccinations must be those approved by the European Medicines Agency, and the cycle must have been completed seven days earlier for Pfizer, 14 days earlier for Moderna or Johnson & Johnson, or 15 days earlier for AstraZeneca.
An EU Digital Covid Certificate is also acceptable proof -- although if the certificate shows an antigen test, the traveler will be required to provide an additional PCR test.
A proof of recovery certificate, in English or Irish, is also acceptable. It must be within 180 days of the patient's first positive test.
These rules also apply to children over the age of 12, who must show proof of vaccination, recovery or a negative PCR test. Children do not have to quarantine on arrival, if accompanying vaccinated or recovered adults.
If arriving from a non-EU country (including the UK) but do not have proof of vaccination, testing or recovery, you must quarantine for 14 days -- though can leave after five with a negative PCR test.
For those arriving from a list of "designated states" (or having visited them in the last 14 days) -- currently Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Peru -- it depends on vaccination status. Vaccinated or recovered arrivals must present an additional negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of travel, and then self-quarantine. If you test negative after five days you can leave. Those without proof of vaccination or recovery must present the PCR test, and must then undergo 14 days mandatory hotel quarantine. This applies also to those flying into Ireland to cross the border into Northern Ireland. See here for details.

What's the Covid situation?

Although the situation in Ireland has vastly improved since the start of 2021, when a massive wave led to another stringent lockdown, cases recently crept up again. As of September 22 there have been 377,937 cases and 5,179 deaths. More than 73% of the population has been fully vaccinated, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.

What can visitors expect?

Ireland spent much of the pandemic in deep hibernation, its pubs and restaurants shut, and tourist hotspots empty. Now though, reopening is finally underway. Pubs were closed completely from December 2020 until June 2021, but but now offer outdoor and indoor dining -- although for indoors, you must present proof that you have been fully vaccinated or recovered from Covid-19 in the last six months (along with ID). Outdoor events capped at 200 can now take place.

Useful links

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Working out your itinerary? Check out these 32 beautiful reasons to visit. When you get there, make sure you head straight to the pub to support an industry that has been devastated by the pandemic.
Dublin, meanwhile, remains one of Europe's best destinations for a city break. And while a sea bridge to Scotland might seem a bit out there, you can always test your head for heights on the footbridge at Mizen Head, the most southwesterly point on the island of Ireland.