(March 31: 6.30pm GMT) Speaking on Tuesday, March 31, Professor Philip Ryan, President of NUI Maynooth stated that the social distancing measures undertaken by were having an “enormous effect” in reducing the number of new cases of coronavirus. The measures have resulted in a “huge” fall in the growth rate of the outbreak but it will take from seven to 14 days before the full impact of the measures will be known. (Source: The Irish Times)
Unfortunately, news from the Intensive Care Society of Ireland (ICSI) has been less positive. Speaking on Tuesday, ICSI president Dr Catherine Motherway stated that intensive care units are under significant pressure with more than 130 patients being treated at the moment. She later added that 107 patients with Covid-19 were on ventilators and another 26 suspected cases are also being treated in intensive care.
The Irish Government announced that from midnight Friday night, March 27, to Easter Sunday, April 12, the country is on lockdown, with people told to stay in their homes with only a limited number of reasons for which they can leave. (Source: Irish Times)
For the next two weeks, people must stay at home, with limited exceptions. People working in essential services will be allowed to travel to work and people will be allowed to leave home to shop for food or exercise within 2km of their homes. Otherwise people are being told to stay at home, with all travel beyond 2km from people’s homes.
The main points from tonight’s speech from Taoiseach Leo Varadkar are as follows:
- Everyone to stay at home in all circumstances (except essential services, shopping, medicines, care for relatives, brief exercise)
- All public and private gatherings of any number of people banned
- All non-essential shops closed.
- All community centres closed.
- Shielding or cocooning introduced to all over-70s
- All visits to offshore islands banned.
- No travel outside of 2km of your home (except reasons above), for any reason.
The Government also announced a number of new measures aimed at further tackling the impact of COVID-19 in the country. The new restrictions announced on Tuesday, and which were signed into law by President Higgins on Friday, require closure of all “non-essential” retail businesses while people are being urged to remain at home, will effectively shut down whole swathes of the economy in a bid to slow the advance of the virus to allow the health service cope.
To mitigate against the economic and social impact caused by these measures, the Government has announced that Covid-19 payment will increase from €205 to €350, and a new income support scheme will mean 70 percent of a person’s salary is covered by the State, up to a maximum value of a €38,000 annual salary, or €410 per week in take-home pay. The scheme, which will last for three months, is intended to keep workers with their employers to enable a faster recovery once the outbreak recedes.
As of Monday night (March 30, 2020), there were 2,910 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Ireland, with a total of 3,443 on the island of Ireland when the 533 cases in Northern Ireland were taken into account. To date 22 people have died of the virus in the North. There have been 54 deaths on the island of Ireland in total. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has again urged people to exercise social distancing as much as is possible.
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As the impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) becomes more apparent around the world, the Moving2Ireland team has received an increasing volume of related inquiries from people expecting to move to or visit Ireland within the coming weeks and months. We aim to refer affected persons to the information and advice they may need.
What we know so far
Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan stated that foreign nationals with visas due to expire in the coming weeks would be able to remain in Ireland until at least May 20th under a temporary extension announced late on Friday night. Flanagan said non-EEA nationals with immigration permission due to expire in the near future would be granted an automatic renewal of their visas for two months.
The Irish Government is keen to stress that while any such instructions may be construed as a “lock-down”, the public can leave their houses to walk, enjoy outdoor spaces, get their groceries and go to the pharmacy as long as social distancing guidelines are taken seriously.
The Irish parliament passed emergency legislation on Thursday, March 19 to try and mitigate against the impact of COVID-19 in the country. The emergency legislation giving the State new powers to detain people, restrict travel and keep people in their homes during the Covid-19 crisis. (Source: RTÉ)
The legislation will also ensure illness benefits are paid to people who are infected with coronavirus, as well as other allowances for those who lose their jobs. The new emergency situation means that the State can also shut down mass gatherings, order groups of people in certain areas to stay in their home if needed, and allow for the detention of a person, on foot of a medical recommendation, if they refuse to self-isolate.
International travel to Ireland
Earlier this week, EU leaders agreed to close the European Union’s (EU) external borders for 30 days in a new effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. The travel restrictions at the border are temporary and aim to reduce most non-essential travel from other countries into the European Union. The new rules will apply to 26 members of the EU, plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. The Irish Government has said the plan is optional for Ireland as it is outside the Schengen free-movement zone, and an Irish government official has confirmed that the land border between north and south will not close.
That said, Tánaiste (Deputy Prime Minister) Simon Coveney has recommended that all Irish citizens strongly consider all non-essential travel overseas from now until 29 March, and only do so if it absolutely necessary. The guidance includes the UK but not Northern Ireland.
Given the evolving and fluid nature of this extraordinary health pandemic, it is hard to predict what the future holds. The best thing to do is to pay attention to the advice being issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs.
Meanwhile, Several Irish support organisations around the world are advising Irish citizens with insecure work or short-term visas to consider flying home. The United States, Canada, New Zealand and Australia have all put measures in place in recent days to curb the flow of people arriving in their respective countries. With priority typically being given to citizens and permanent residents, many Irish temporary work permit holders are in a precarious position.
Our friends at Crosscare have been taking calls this week from Irish people abroad concerned about returning home. The organisation’s policy officer Danielle McLoughlin said the charity was working with other groups to help people in vulnerable circumstances.
International travel from Ireland
Both the United States and Canada have imposed travel bans that affect Irish citizens, as well as many others, from visiting those two countries. In addition, the DFA has banned travel to Italy and imposed strong recommendations against visiting COVID-19-affected countries such as China, South Korea and Iran as well many others. You can read the full list here.
Australia and New Zealand have introduced a ban on anyone entering the country except for citizens and residents from March 20. The United States and have introduced a ban on anyone travelling from Europe from 16 March for 30 days.
Canada has closed its international border to anyone who is not a Canadian citizen or permanent resident. As of March 18, airlines will not allow foreign nationals on planes. Official guidelines state that these restrictions will be in place until June 30, 2020, although developments in the public health crisis could impact this. (Source: Government of Canada)
For any emergencies, many Irish embassies abroad are currently not open to the public and are available by phone, email or appointment only.
Given the spread of the virus, it is likely that this list will increase in the coming days and weeks. Pay close attention to the DFA website for further details.
What to do if you've visited a coronavirus (COVID-19)-affected country
You will need to self-quarantine for 14 days if you return from one of the following countries:
- Spain (including the Balearic and Canary Islands)
- South Korea (Daegu, Cheongdo or Gyeongsan)
There are several other countries with a spread of coronavirus but there are not currently travel restrictions in place.
If you are not feeling well
If you return from one of these countries and you develop symptoms of coronavirus, phone your GP. They will assess you over the phone and arrange testing if necessary.
Travelling to another country from Ireland
Get up-to-date travel information from the Department of Foreign Affairs on countries and regions affected by coronavirus.
Travel to areas with widespread local transmission
If you travel to an area with widespread local transmission of coronavirus, the risk of catching the virus is high. The World Health Organisation (WHO) publish daily information on rates of local transmission.
Can I still move to Ireland?
The short answer to this question is yes. The longer and slightly more nuanced answer is that you will need to monitor the situation closely. As it stands, Ireland hasn’t stopped the processing of any of its visa programmes. That said, the evoloving and ever-changing nature of this pandemic mean that it is essential to stay as informed as possible at all times.
To do that, we recommend paying close attention to Visas Section the Department of Foreign Affairs website.
Travel insurance in Ireland and coronavirus (COVID-19)
If you are moving to Ireland, or traveling abroad from there, then travel insurance may be something that is mandatory or optional. However, regardless of whether you are obliged to have travel insurance or not, opting to invest in an insurance policy will provide you with a range of benefits that can give you invaluable peace of mind as you settle into life in your new home.
Given the extraordinary nature of the COVID-19 virus, it is important not to assume anything about your travel insurance policyt but rather consult with your provider immediately regarding flight cancellation, medical treatment and other relevant aspects of your plan.