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Travellers into Ireland will need to show negative Covid test, Government agrees

The news comes as the emergence of the new Omicron coronavirus variant prompts concerns worldwide.

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New rules on mask-wearing for children were also clarified, amid rising rates of the virus in primary school-age children (Joe Giddens/PA)

New rules on mask-wearing for children were also clarified, amid rising rates of the virus in primary school-age children (Joe Giddens/PA)

New rules on mask-wearing for children were also clarified, amid rising rates of the virus in primary school-age children (Joe Giddens/PA)

The Cabinet has agreed that all travellers entering Ireland from Friday will be required to show a negative result on a professionally administered antigen test 48 hours before arrival or on a PCR test 72 hours before arrival.

It comes as the emergence of the new Omicron variant prompts concerns worldwide, while health officials in Ireland warn that coronavirus rates remain too high.

The Government confirmed on Tuesday evening that the new rules on travel would take effect from Friday, with anyone who has recently recovered from Covid-19 or is fully vaccinated required to show proof of a certified negative antigen test 48 hours before arrival.

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Taoiseach Micheal Martin was speaking in the Dail (Julien Behal/PA)

Taoiseach Micheal Martin was speaking in the Dail (Julien Behal/PA)

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Taoiseach Micheal Martin was speaking in the Dail (Julien Behal/PA)

Children aged 11 and under would be exempt from the requirements.

In a statement, the Government said that travel operators would be required to carry out pre-boarding checks to ensure all passengers were following the new rules.

The new measures would initially apply for two weeks, with the Government hoping to be able to remove them “as soon as possible”.

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The measures would also apply to travellers from Great Britain.

The Government would also introduce new legislation to re-establish mandatory hotel quarantine.

New rules on mask-wearing for children were also clarified on Tuesday evening, amid rising rates of the virus in primary school-age children.

Parents are being asked to prioritise their children’s activities - minimising indoor community gatherings and indoor mixed household gatheringsGovernment statement

For the next two weeks, parents were being asked to reduce socialisation indoors for children aged 12 and younger.

“Parents are being asked to prioritise their children’s activities – minimising indoor community gatherings and indoor mixed household gatherings; reducing the risk of exposure to the virus by opting for outdoor activities instead of indoor; and reducing the number of children involved in any particular activity,” according to a statement issued on Tuesday.

Masks and face coverings were also being recommended for children until February next year.

Children aged nine and above were being asked to wear masks on public transport, shops and in other indoor settings – bringing the rules in line with those that currently apply to children aged 13 and above.

Children in third class and above are also being asked to wear masks in primary school and on school transport.

Nphet have advised that this measure is being introduced on a temporary basis and is subject to review in mid-February 2022.

Exemptions will be made for children with difficulty breathing or other relevant medical conditions, those unable to remove face coverings without assistance, or those with special needs who may feel uncomfortable wearing face coverings.

“Schools will be best placed to identify those children whose complex needs are such that the wearing of face covering may not be possible for them, and to discuss this with parents as required” guidelines issued by the Department of Education said.

“In such circumstances a school may not require medical certification to provide an exemption to the wearing of face coverings.”

However, the guidelines say that in other circumstances staff and pupils who do not wear masks and do not have a valid medical certificate “will be refused entry to the school”.

In the Dail on Tuesday afternoon, Taoiseach Micheal Martin said that if children were displaying any symptoms, they should not be in school.

“Someone said earlier that parents are sending children with a spoon or two of Calpol, which is not the thing to do,” he said.

He said that the level of cases among five to 11-year-olds was “through the roof”.

Speaking about the broader Covid-19 situation in schools, he told TDs: “The target now is to get to the Christmas break, recalibrate, review how we deal with the next semester.

“If we can reduce socialisation overall, we should turn that curve down the other way, in terms of case numbers.”

Earlier, Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien told reporters that current measures were working.

“I would say that we have seen the stabilisation in the rate,” he said.

“We’ve seen reduction in hospitalisations as well.”

Members of the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) met party leaders on Monday to discuss the latest Covid situation in Ireland.

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said on Monday that it was “likely” the new Omicron variant was now in Ireland and there were already some suspected cases.

On Tuesday morning, the Children’s Ombudsman, Dr Niall Muldoon, said any restrictions on children must be “appropriate and proportionate”.

“Children have never been found wanting in doing what’s asked of them in relation to this crisis,” he said.

“But it’s been extremely stressful for children over the last 18 months, nearly two years.”

He said it would be the second Christmas that children were being asked to avoid parties and their friends.

“That is developmentally important for children, that they meet people outside the school setting,” Dr Muldoon told RTE radio.

“However, we still have to balance that with making sure we keep the schools open.”

There were a further 5,471 cases of Covid-19 in Ireland on Tuesday, the Department of Health said.

As of Tuesday morning there were 579 patients in hospital with the disease, with 122 in intensive care.

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan warned there has been “a sharp increase” in incidence rates among children aged five to 11.

He said children should avoid indoor birthday parties and play dates, sleepovers, communions, confirmations, nativity and other seasonal events.

He said: “These measures are not what any of us want to hear, particularly at this time of year. We know that it adds an additional burden at what has been a very difficult time for all of us, particularly those with young families.”


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