Northern Ireland Plans International Arrival Tests

Thursday, 14 Jan 2021

Northern Ireland Plans International Arrival Tests

The devolved government of Northern Ireland is considering a proposal from health minister Robin Swann to make international travellers coming into the country present a negative Covid-19 test conducted prior to their departure.

Details of Downing Street’s plan for UK arrivals were announced last week. At that time, the health minister said he had agreed “in principle” to the rule but that the final details were being worked out by officials.

Swann has now submitted his plan to the executive to follow in the footsteps of mainland UK.

Even after the new testing rules are enacted, passengers arriving from countries not on the government’s travel corridor list will continue to have to self-isolate for 10 days; regardless of their test result.  

With Covid-19 infections and casualties rising across the continents, the corridor list is now smaller than ever. In Europe, only Finland and Ireland remain. While some islands of Greece also continue to be exempt from quarantine. 

The testing of international arrivals has already been agreed in the Republic of Ireland with rules commencing 16 January. Negative tests are already required for passengers arriving from Great Britain and South Africa.

It is understood Stormont’s first and deputy first ministers spoke to the Irish PM on Wednesday evening regarding the testing plan.

Meanwhile, ministers are “heartened” that the six-week lockdown in NI seems to be having a positive impact. The health minister remains cautious however, with cases of the variant increasing throughout the region. More “difficult decisions” on restrictions may be required, warned Mr. Swann.  

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