Policy responses for Ireland - HSRM


Policy responses for Ireland

1.3 Isolation and quarantine

Update 12 October 2020: No countries on the “green list” for international travel without restrictions

From 12 October there are no countries to which those living in Ireland can travel without having to quarantine for 14 days upon return. The decision was made by the Department of Foreign Affairs on 8 October after reviewing the figures from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDPC). None of the European countries reviewed had the incidence of COVID-19 infections below the required 25 cases per 100,000 population.

The list will be updated weekly as negotiations on coordinating travel in EU continue on the “EU traffic lights system” which was endorsed by the Irish Cabinet last week. The introduction of this system will abolish the “green list” and is hoped to allow for the resumption of international travel for people living in Ireland. However, according to the official figures, the 14-day incidence rate for Ireland is currently at 112 which would place it firmly in the red zone where additional restrictions on travel apply. The quarantine requirement would continue unless the infection rate in Ireland is brought under control.




Update 15 September 2020: Period of self-isolation reduced to 10 days

The period for self-isolation after contracting COVID-19 has been reduced from 14 days to 10 days in a new clinical guidance issued by the Health Service Executive (HSE) to Irish GPs. Additionally, patients must be fever free for the last five days of self-isolation.

The change comes after the Health Information & Quality Authority (HIQA) published a review of international evidence showing that patients with mild-to-moderate COVID-19 are unlikely to be infectious beyond 10 days after first experiencing symptoms.



22 July 2020: ‘Green list’ for travel published

The Irish government published a so-called ‘green list’ of countries from which individuals may travel to Ireland without having to self-isolate for two weeks upon entry into the state. Malta, Finland, Norway, Italy, Hungary, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Cyprus, Slovakia, Greece, Greenland, Gibraltar, Monaco and San Marino have been included on the list and deemed as safe for travel with ‘normal precautions’ (https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/8868e-view-the-covid-19-travel-advice-list/). 

However, at the same time Health Minister Stephen Donnelly TD said that the government’s position is that people should not be travelling abroad but should ‘holiday at home this summer’ (https://www.irishtimes.com/news/health/minister-for-health-we-don-t-want-people-travelling-on-holiday-this-summer-1.4311034).

In a press statement issued after a meeting of the NPHET on 23/02/2020, it was noted that due to increased cases in Italy, the ECDC now rates the risk of the occurrence of similar clusters of cases in other EU countries as moderate to high. This press statement also said ‘Our public health advice currently remains unchanged - anyone who may have been in contact with a person who has COVID-19, or who has been to mainland China in the last 14 days, is advised to contact HSE Live. If they are unwell with cough, especially with respiratory symptoms (e.g. cough, high temperature, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, fever) they should isolate themselves and phone their GP immediately’.

On 27/02/2020, the first confirmed COVID-19 case on the island of Ireland was recorded and the CMO Dr Tony Holohan responded publicly saying that the health authorities had been preparing for this since January and contact tracing began. They advised the public that ‘any person concerned that they may have symptoms of Covid-19 (Coronavirus) should immediately isolate themselves from others and phone their GP’. It also extended guidance to include ‘anyone who has been to an affected region (mainland China, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Iran and four regions in northern Italy) in the last 14 days AND is experiencing symptoms should self-isolate and call their GP; anyone who has been in close contact with a confirmed case of Covid-19 in the last 14 days AND is experiencing symptoms should immediately self-isolate and call their GP; anyone who has been to an affected region (China, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Korea, Iran and four regions in northern Italy) in the last 14 days, and are well, should visit www.HSE.ie for advice. It can take up to 14 days for symptoms of Covid-19 (Coronavirus) to show.’

At the 10/03/2020 NPHET meeting, it was ‘proposed that patients who test positive for COVID-19 but who are clinically suitable should be permitted to self-isolate at home, rather than spend the isolation period in hospital, with the provision that any required social supports are in place’.

As of 01/04/2020, full quarantine has not been introduced in Ireland. However, people (excluding key supply chain workers) returning to Ireland from any country except Northern Ireland are required to restrict movements for 14 days following their arrival. At the NPHET meeting on 10/03/2020, it was noted that ‘The HSE Chief Clinical Officer presented correspondence received from the Irish Society of Infectious Disease Consultants, which asks that full quarantine be declared in Ireland. This proposal was discussed. It was agreed that there is no epidemiological case for a full quarantine at this time, but that the situation will be kept under review.’


Government of Ireland. Statement from the National Public Health Emergency Team – Thursday 27 February. Press release. https://www.gov.ie/en/press-release/d23309-statement-from-the-national-public-health-emergency-team-thursday-27/ 

Press releases, Agendas and minutes of the meetings of the National Public Health Emergency Team: https://www.gov.ie/en/collection/691330-national-public-health-emergency-team-covid-19-coronavirus/